Advertisements

Se7en (1995)

seven

Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi.

imdb

Top 250 #27

Year of Release: 1995

Running Time: 127 min.

MPAA Rating: R

Director – David Fincher

Cast:

Brad Pitt – Detective David Mills
Morgan Freeman – Detective Lt. William Somerset
Gwyneth Paltrow – Tracy Mills
R. Lee Ermey – Police Captain

Se7en is an incredible film brought to us by David Fincher. In an unidentified city of near-constant rain and urban decay, the soon-to-be retiring Detective William R. Somerset (Freeman) is partnered with short-tempered Detective David Mills (Pitt) who recently transferred to the department. They are a pair of homicide detectives who become deeply involved in the case of a sadistic serial killer. What they discover is that the killer is inspired by Dante Alighieri’s seven deadly sins from “The Divine Comedy”, and is on a mission to preach about man’s impurity, and does so by targeting victims, then torturing them by pitting their own underlining sins against them. Each meticulously planned murder corresponds to one of the seven deadly sins: gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, pride, lust, and envy.

brad pitt

In a strange move, we actually never see any of the murders happen on-screen. We do get to witness the aftermath of the murders though, and Fincher doesn’t hold back in the blood and gore stakes. Whilst never being overly graphic, some of the murder scenes are not pleasant to look at. A couple of examples are seeing a man who has literally eaten himself to death, and at the opposite end of the scale we see a man who has been starved for a year. Little bits of information the detectives can gather on their killer are that he is dedicated enough to starve someone and watch over him for a year, doing enough just to keep him alive and therefore prolong his suffering.

Eventually the detectives track down a man named John Doe who has frequently checked out books from a library related to the deadly sins. I want to use the same tactic the films marketing team used and keep silent on the identity of the killer. Despite being an A-list actor, this person in real life received no billing or acknowledgement as being in the film. It then comes as a big surprise when the killers identity is revealed, and if possible elevates the overall experience of the movie. I can’t imagine a film these days getting away with keeping a huge secret like that, some sneaky paparazzi would get hold of it for example. A lot of reviews I have read give away the name of the actor, so I really wanted to try and steer clear of that, in the hope that even if one person who hasn’t seen the movie and sees it based on my review will enjoy the revelation and be surprised. Always more fun trying to watch a film like this and guessing the killer from the clues your given rather than just know who to look out for in my opinion.

paltrow

The acting on display was top drawer. Brad Pitt has never been better, a young guy who is good at his job and new to the scene. Unbeknown to him, his wife is pregnant but scared to bring up their child in this new town. She confides in Morgan Freeman’s character, and the scenes between Freeman and Paltrow are sweet to watch. Speaking of Morgan Freeman, he was born to play this kind of role, and is very reminiscent of other cop roles he has played, just effortlessly brilliant. Even going as far as understanding the lessons John Doe is trying to give, rather than just dismissing him as a lunatic. As for John Doe himself, just a truly terrifying and creepy performance whilst giving off such a calm demeanour and an absolute belief that he is doing Gods work, all brilliantly portrayed by an incredible actor.

Se7en was filmed with specially altered film stock which made the visuals look as dark and unsettling as possible. The sinister music score from Howard Shore keeps the heart pounding throughout and keeps the audience uncomfortable. The opening and closing credits are superb, just a real visual treat and so different. Everything about this film is dark but yet rewarding to watch. The script is excellent, full of twists and turns, and even the ending is different to most Hollywood style scripts. Apparently Brad Pitt refused to make the movie if the producers tried to change the ending. After seeing the alternate ending and reading about the one they wanted to change it to, I’m so glad they went with the one they did, one of the most memorable movie endings I’ve ever seen.

seven

In closing, what may sound on paper like a routine film about a cop days away from retiring, partnered with the new rookie whist hunting down a bad guy, doesn’t even come close to describing what goes on in this film. In one of the best cat and mouse style hunts I’ve ever seen, with so many twists and turns, clue after clue left to try and decipher, all the time trying to piece together the puzzle as to who this killer is, Se7en is a masterclass in story telling and an incredible piece of cinema. The ending is perfect and ties together the whole film, and the way the seven deadly sins are shown and worked out is breathtaking. Brutal and gory it may be, but please don’t let this put you off if you have somehow never seen Se7en. A story this good deserves and demands to be seen. Definitely on a par with Silence of the Lambs as the best serial killer film in my opinion.

seven

Did you know? It is raining every day in the movie except for the last day. The reason is less about thematic issues and more about continuity. It rained on the first day that Brad Pitt filmed so they kept it going as they were rushing to do all of Pitt’s scenes before he left to go make Twelve Monkeys. 

imdbIMDB rating 8.7/10

Tyson’s rating 9/10

9

Advertisements
Leave a comment

33 Comments

  1. theipc

     /  July 18, 2012

    Excellent work here, Head In A Vice!

    Like

    Reply
    • Thanks IPC, thought since 3 guest reviews have appeared in a row for this project I should add one of my own. Loved re-watching this film 🙂

      Like

      Reply
      • theipc

         /  July 18, 2012

        I know ~ my wife and I just watched this again a couple of weeks ago and it’s still a stud movie after all these years. I wish Fincher was still doing stuff like this… I haven’t liked his latest efforts even though I did like some of Benjamin Button.

        Like

        Reply
        • Definitely, time has not ruined this movie at all, still incredible 17 years on. To be honest I loved Zodiac & Benjamin Button. Wasn’t a fan of Social Network but Dragon Tattoo was pretty good.That run he had though of Se7en followed up by Fight Club (even The Game in between them I liked), pretty hard to live up to those standards I guess. Definitely one of my favourite directors.

          Like

  2. Se7en is an amazing amazing film. I remember being completely blown away the first time I watched it. I was less blown away by 12 Monkeys…I need to watch this again – I haven’t seen it in so long and your excellent review has me nostalgic!

    Like

    Reply
    • I haven’t seen 12 monkeys for ages but I am going to make an effort as I’m sure its in the top 250. Thanks for the kind words, it was a few years since I had seen Se7en and it has definitely not lost any of its brilliance all these years later.

      Like

      Reply
  3. Very good film. One of Brad Pitt’s best performances. Very atmospheric and tense. I wish more murder mystery/whodunnits were this atmospheric.

    Like

    Reply
    • Yeah, I can’t remember the last great film I saw where you don’t already know who the killer is. I envy anyone who gets to see Se7en for the first time.

      Like

      Reply
  4. This is an intense and dark flick from start to finish. Those last 10 minutes or so just totally grab you by the neck and never let go. There’s a pun in there somewhere, but I’m too lazy to even try and point it out. Good review Tyson.

    Like

    Reply
    • Thanks buddy. I apologise, for some reason your comment went into my spam file so I only just found it. Every now and then some real comments slip through so sorry for the delay in replying! Appreciate your kind words, means a lot 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  5. This sounds pretty good, and you make it ALMOST convincing enough for me to watch. Unfortunately I’m not huge on gory parts unless the scene is VERY quick and passes over VERY quickly. Lolol. From your review though, it sounds like you’d be getting a good look at the gore, so while I’m intrigued by the story, I don’t think I can really hop on board. D: Good review though! 🙂

    Like

    Reply
    • Damn, so close!! Yeah there is a bit of gore, but worth it for the incredible story! Ah well, one day I’ll review something that isn’t your type of film but you will be intrigued, go and watch it and then return to thank me for opening your horizons to the darker side of cinema 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  6. Excellent review. Se7en is one of my favorite films ever, and Fincher one of my favorite directors. It was good of you to not name identify who plays the killer, but I ended up doing it when I wrote about it a while ago; I figured the film is over 15 years old. Plus, I was looking to discuss it in addition to reviewing it straight-up.

    You’re right about the altered film stock — it really adds to the film and contributes largely to its bleak tone. Like you said, the pairing of a wise veteran cop and a young headstrong cop might sound formulaic, but the way this film plays out is anything but.

    Like

    Reply
    • Cheers Tommy.Yeah I kind of wanted to name him, but just felt that if one day someone read this and they hadn’t seen the film for whatever reason, then hopefully that feeling I had of not knowing the first time I saw it would be shared.

      The premise with the cops is like a million other movies, but that’s where the comparisons stop. Even watching it again now, every time there is something else I see or hear that I haven’t caught before. So rewarding when a film can do that.

      Like

      Reply
      • Those are the best kinds of movies — the ones that reward you for repeat viewing.

        I unfortunately did not get to experience the same level of surprise at the revelation of the killer’s identity because I first saw the film via Netflix and the actor’s name was given in the film description. Unbelievable faux pas on the part of Netflix. Still though, it was an incredibly awesome viewing experience.

        Like

        Reply
        • Damn that is unlucky. I read your comments on your site last night actually, where you talk about it with your buddy. Ill comment on there later, and I can talk about the killer as you have mentioned it 🙂

          Like

  7. I don’t think he was exactly A-lst at the time, but you’ve still made a good decision not to reveal whodunit. I remember when I watched Psycho in the early 90s and was so pleased and surprised that the ending had never been spoiled, but of course that was before the rise of the internet as we know it.

    Like

    Reply
    • True, although he is now I guess and just before Se7en was released he was in a superb movie that went on to win him an oscar 🙂 Yeah Psycho had been ruined for me before I ever got to see it (as had sixth sense and sopranos – stupid internet) so this is me doing my tiny bit of goodness and not sharing any spoilers!

      Like

      Reply
  8. Mike

     /  July 20, 2012

    A most excellent film!

    Like

    Reply
  9. Great review, this is one of those films that creates such a believably bleak atmosphere that keeps you enthralled? I mean does it ever stop raining

    Like

    Reply
    • Living in the UK I can confirm it never stops raining here 🙂 I figured it was part of the script to have it raining all the time but it was just coincidence. Worked superb with the final act being the total opposite weather wise. Thanks for your comment Vinnieh

      Like

      Reply
      • Also I think that the film is clever in the way it has hardly any gore in it, it is all psychological.

        Like

        Reply
  10. Carly

     /  July 25, 2012

    Great film! Looking back can’t believe my parents let me rent this for my bday could only of been 14 or 15 at the time.

    Like

    Reply
  1. SAW (2004) | Head In A Vice
  2. American Beauty (1999) – Guest Review by John Mountain | Head In A Vice
  3. A Call To Arms: Part 2 | Head In A Vice
  4. The Factory (2012) | Head In A Vice
  5. SAW II (2005) | Head In A Vice
  6. Question Time XXII – Best Horror Movie | Head In A Vice
  7. The Killing Gene (2007) | Head In A Vice

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Advertisements