(1995, David Fincher)
“The world is a fine place, and worth fighting for. I agree with the second part.”
Serial killer fiction is alarmingly common, particularly where the killer has an especially complicated plan for his murder sprees. There could be a number of psychological reasons for our fascination with murder mysteries, but really, if it produces movies as good as Se7en, who cares?
Morgan Freeman plays Detective William Somerset, a world-weary cop heading towards retirement (no, we’re not heading towards that trope). His last case sees him paired up with rookie detective David Mills (Brad Pitt), and they discover that a serial killer is starting a gruesome series of murders based around the seven deadly sins. They’ve already discovered the victims of Gluttony (an obese shut-in who’s been fed until he burst) and Greed (a criminal lawyer bled to death after removing a pound of flesh) and now it’s a race against time to find him and stop him before he commits his final five murders.
Se7en is a bleak movie, and David Fincher throws us into a decaying, amoral world with dilapidated structures and shades of grey everywhere. There is no brightness here, and barely any happy scenes. The art direction is gritty and even when we’re not in murder scenes, there seems to be grime everywhere you look, even in Mills and Somerset’s apartments. It effectively sets the tone for everything we’re going to see.
One thing that did bug me about this movie though was Brad Pitt. His acting is incredibly obnoxious, and while this suits his character, it does get annoying to watch. It constantly feels like Pitt’s overdoing it. It also fails to fade in scenes involving his wife, where he continues to seem smug and self-righteous, even when he’s supposed to seem loving. Fortunately, the other performances help paper over this, with Morgan Freeman not only being as good as he usually is, but also because he’s so good at telling Pitt to shut up. Kevin Spacey’s top secret performance is also fantastic, but let’s not go into that too much at the risk of spoilers.
The plot is pretty clever. The thematic killings are well thought-out and logical (in a twisted sort of way), although the film’s logic seems to stutter a little bit in the final moments of the film. However, it remains tense and exciting throughout, which is important. It also succeeds in letting the results of the killings (bar Gluttony and Sloth) remain unseen, or at least stay incredibly blurred, allowing the audience to fill in the blanks themselves, making things creepier.
Se7en is a brilliant movie, although not without its faults. As far as serial killer movies go, however, it’s definitely one of the best out there, and certainly better than its many imitators.
Starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, R. Lee Ermey & John C. McGinley (and Kevin Spacey, but shh)
Written by Andrew Kevin Walker
Produced by Phyllis Carlyle & Arnold Kopelson
Music score by Howard Shore
Cinematography by Darius Khondji
Edited by Richard Francis-Bruce
Favourite Scene: Any time Morgan Freeman told Brad Pitt to shut up or calm down. I like to believe it wasn’t their characters, but just Freeman getting frustrated.
Scene That Bugged Me: Oddly, it wasn’t one of Brad Pitt’s many moments of over-the-top acting. It was actually an incredibly out-of-place scene involving Somerset visiting a library while classical music played. It seemed so out of sync with the tone of the movie.
Watch it if: You want to see how inventive the killings can be
Avoid it if: You don’t want to have to wait until the very end of the movie for Morgan Freeman to start doing a voiceover
Originally posted on Blogspot Monday 13 February 2012