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Waz

2008-11-04 10:15
 
What it's about:

New to the precinct Officer Helen Westcott (Melissa George) is partnered to the grizzled Officer Eddie Argo (Stellan Skarsgard) to investigate a crime in which the body of young woman is found with mysterious burns and part of a scientific equation carved into her flesh. Her badly mutilated boyfriend is found soon afterwards and the police suspect the killings are gang related. After more pairs of corpses turn up, it becomes clear that the killer has other motives and there may be a hidden link to past crimes investigated by Eddie.

What we thought of it:

Waz has to have one of the most stupid names I've ever come across, especially considering the disturbing content and pervasive aura of gloom that hangs over it. Obviously the name is supposed to remind you of Saw (2004 - 2008), as is the poster and the preposterous subplot involving the equation. It's rather irritating because this premise seems to have been messily tacked onto the film to emphasise the Saw similarity and tap into that rich market of sadistic nerds with a grudge against the world.

Melissa George and Stellan Skarsgard are thankfully watchable as the hopelessly mismatched partners – she's the fresh-faced newbie shocked by the violence and corruption around her and he's the world weary cynic, as likely to break the law as many of the criminals he catches. They slowly develop a bond, but the relationship never lapses into anything sentimental and never even nears true friendship.

Their interactions provide many of Waz's finer moments, with their different reactions to the crimes proving far more real than a film like this should aim to be. The harsh and hopeless environment is repeatedly hammered home with scenes such as the one in which Helen and Eddie chat about family and children in their police cruiser while listening to a gangland execution in a nearby tenement. It's all rather depressing, but then most films like this are all about rubbing your face in cruelty and pain, so it's to be expected.

The violence, mostly told through flashback sequences, is far more believable than Saw, even when it ventures into the realm of elaborate torture. The massive flaw here is that the good acting combined with the sort of thing that happens frequently in this country does not make for good escapist viewing. Furthermore, the addition of the stupid equation to add mystery insults your intelligence and trivialises terrible crimes in the name of making a quick buck.

I can't recommend watching Waz, even though it was fairly gripping and had some fantastic and memorable scenes. The satisfaction that comes from watching a well played gritty crime drama is annihilated by the all the ridiculous attempts to be like Saw. This is just another case of some advertising execs with no taste spoiling a potentially decent film.

- Ivan Sadler

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Police investigate a series of grisly murders tied to a mysterious genetic equation in which people are forced to choose between themselves or a loved one.

YTAH 2008-08-15 02:55 PM
A 'Saw' copy-cat? With a name like WAZ? No way! Say it ain't so. I say we take the marketing execs, and George Lucas, and send 'em up to Bear Mountain to have a picnic. Naked, and covered in honey.
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