Se7en Review

(3.5 STARS)

Se7en is one of the darkest serial-killer films of all-time. It contains a truly twisted killer and one of the most brutal endings I’ve ever seen in film. It has obtained real cult status since its release in 1995 and helped put director David Fincher on the map. I don’t believe it’s the perfect film many make it out to be (I think there are some problems with the acting, pace, and amount of violence), but I do think it’s an exceptional entry in a genre devoid of a lot of exceptional work.

Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) has had a long career, and he is ready to call it quits. With only a week left on the job, Somerset is called in to investigate the death of a morbidly obese man. At the crime scene, he meets David Mills (Brad Pitt), the man selected to be his replacement. The two discover a number of clues, including the word “gluttony,” which indicate the man was murdered. This leads to a series of increasingly grizzly murders which are modeled after the seven deadly sins: envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, and wrath. The two detectives follow the clues and attempt to find the killer, but as they get deeper and deeper into it, they realize just how smart John Doe (Kevin Spacey) really is.

Se7en‘s greatest accomplishment is its incredibly dark and seemingly hopeless atmosphere. It rains everyday. The murders are absolutely brutal. Everything is dirty and dark and damp. The characters are somewhat depressed. There’s just nothing happy about it. But it shouldn’t be a happy film. It’s about a psycho killer who’s too smart for the police. That’s scary shit.

The problems here are luckily minor enough that I can still thoroughly recommend the film. I thought the acting was unremarkable. Brad Pitt is his usual cocky self. This is before he became a real superstar, yet the act already feels stale. I actually think Pitt is a good actor. His performances in Fight Club, Burn After Reading, and especially The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford are terrific. Here, I wasn’t really convinced when he needed to show anguish, and I wasn’t really rooting for him as a hero. Morgan Freeman, the film’s other lead as Somerset, is good enough, but he could do this role in his sleep. Gwyneth Paltrow has a small role as Mills’s wife, but she doesn’t really have much to do besides look worried. The only acting standout is Kevin Spacey as John Doe. He’s as creepy as ever and helps make the conclusion so memorable.

I also had small problems with the film’s pace and use of violence. Apparently, solving a murder involves a lot of research and looking for clues. These characters spend a night in a library and investigate quite a few murder scenes. It gets repetitive after a while. Luckily, there are a few more exciting scenes than there are dull investigative scenes. The film’s violence is brutal. This rarely bothers me, but I couldn’t get past it here. The murders are so sadistic and are shown in such graphic detail that I have to applaud Fincher for his daringness while still condemning him a little for being so merciless.

While it might seem like I’m being unfair to the film, I don’t think I am. I really do like Se7en a lot, but I think it’s a bit overrated. I hope those who venture into this genre in the future learn from Fincher’s minor, but numerous, mistakes.

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