Seven (Se7en) Reviews
Atmospheric and rain-drenched, it starrs Morgan Freeman as William Somerset; a soon-to-be-retired detective who pairs up with the young and temperamental David Mills (a superlative Brad Pitt), after being assigned a murder case, which leads them on a staggering hunt for a serial killer, who is claiming victims in accordance with the seven deadly sins.
Following the puzzle trail, they are pushed to their psychological limits, as each new homicide presents increasingly disturbing and stomach-churning atrocities. The type of nightmarish imagery, that once it has been seen, cannot be unseen. A haunting segment in particular, which I never seem able to shake off, concerns a "corpse" found on a bed, which then - in a sudden, terrifying twist - turns out to be still alive; giving whole new meaning to the phrase "starved to within an inch of his life".
It isn't a very fast-moving story, yet never for a moment dreary or slackened in its intrigues. Carefully and meticulously, it heat things up to a steady boil - resulting in a mood and suspense that reminds me of Hitchcock at his most effective. As much a brilliant character study as it is a heart-racing whodunit piece. For while the seven cardinal sins may be the central theme of the plot, it boasts as least many virtues, in all areas of its making. The screenplay by Andrew Kevin Walker is one of the most intelligent I've ever come across, which in symbiosis with the performances and Richard Francis-Bruce's impeccable editing, amounts to an experience of fine-tuned perfection.
Above all else though, I just love the great interactions between the two lead detectives. One cocky, unruly and governed by emotional impulse. The other serving as the voice of reason with his skillfully deductive methods. As the film's antagonist, the mysterious John Doe, we also find a peak-performing Kevin Spacey, in a very chilling and provocative turn, that despite his late appearance in the film, makes an incredibly strong and memorable impression.
Then last, but not least, there's Fincher's directing: subtle, magnificent and visually unhinged. Flawlessly executed for its entire 2-hour run; right up until the shocking finale, which offers a gut-wrenching, curveball of a twist and Brad Pitt at his visceral best. An achievement, which in turn, leads me to my personal definition of what constitutes a masterpiece.
For in my eyes, the signature of a chef d'oeuvre, is a film you keep coming back to, even though you're well-aware of the outcome and how everything plays out. Where some films are just great the first time around, Se7en is the rare example of a movie that continues to fascinate, despite the mileage on its existence. A thinking man's thriller, whose superior dominance of the genre remains extraordinarily intact.
Watch it, feel it, let it break through the barriers of your mind. For whichever way you enter this ingenious magnum opus, I can assure you it'll dig itself in, whether you want it to or not.
If you could describe "Se7en", dark, black, dreary, and claustrophobic would come up. Whether those attributes apply to how "Se7en" looks or what its about, it works. For example, this film's themes are very dark and delve into a realm unseen within the shadows, but at the same time, almost every scene is littered with black and gray colors with tints of blue. The storytelling is highly engaging, and though there is a lack of heart and character development, the premise of the narrative is too intriguing to regard the movie as a soulless picture. Yeah, I admit the film takes a while to hook the audience in, but once it grabs hold, it won't let go till the credits roll. However, one major thing that detracted me from the overall experience was how the film as a whole, was rendered to be entertainment. Everything had a very, "This is a Hollywood movie, not a real-life film" vibe. Plus, the sub-plot involving Gwyneth Paltrow was uninteresting and predictable.
"Se7en" isn't quite the "greatest crime drama of all time" film it raved out to be, but it was an excellent film with a premise and execution of the narrative that is too mysteriously engaging for it not to be considered as a forgettable film.
And from there, we are introduced to the world of Seven (stylized as Se7en): David Fincher's second film and arguably his best. It was here that Fincher created his trademark of dark films, violent and disturbing yet graceful scenes, and shocking performances from the cast. It is hard to review this type of film because of all that it has going for it. Plus, the film-making of a high order along with the pure originality of the story.
The first thing I want to touch base on is the acting of Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt. Now, I have been something of a fan of both of their works, but here they have the most raw and revealing performances I have seen. Mainly dealing with Freeman due to him coming to terms with his life and the path he has chosen. With Pitt, I like how he embodies every young rookie out there. They are both fine actors that do a good job playing polar opposites, but what I would of liked is to see more of a backstory on Pitt's character. We know a good bit about Somerset (Freeman), but little on Mills (Pitt). I guess it is due to my love of characters, but I was a bit disappointed with the lack of backstory.
This is a dark and bleak film with only a little line of light due to one character. This film is all about style, and for Fincher's second film, he delivers. However, the ending does leave one to be desired in the sense of how it is played out. Just, this film has literally everything going for it: intelligent characters, wonderful script, grotesque deaths, and magnificent direction. The ending this film needed should have been better. With that aside, this is still Fincher's masterpiece. For now...
"Let he who is without sin try to survive"
Sev7n is a simply brilliant crime/detective thriller. This is the film that gave David Fincher credibility and really paved the way, for what would be a magnificent career. He has made some great films since Seven, like Fight Club and most recently The Social Network, but none touch this gritty and highly intelligent thriller.
This film is more than just a great ending. The whole film is suspenseful and at times frightening. But the ending is clearly what this film is remembered most for, and for good reason. The ending of Seven is my favorite ending in any film I have seen. Number 2 is The Usual Suspects, weird that Kevin Spacey has a hand in both. The film starts off with two detectives meeting at a crime scene, one is Detective Somerset(Morgan Freeman), who is a veteran and is going to retire after the week is up; the other is Detective Mills, who is a new detective and is highly excited about his work. After the two find a obese man dead with the word Gluttony written at the crime scene, Somerset decides he wants no part of this case because he believes it to be a serial killer and he doesn't want to leave his job without finishing his last assignment. Then they find another with the word Greed written, and now Somerset knows for sure that the killer is basing his murders on The Seven Deadly Sins. Somerset decides to help Mills out on the case and it leads them on a hunt to try to find a sick twisted psycho.
This film has been compared to The Silence of the Lambs, and it makes references to the film throughout. Actually I probably like this even more than Silence, which is saying a lot. The great thing that both of the films have in common is not giving too much screen time to the serial killers. In Silence, Hannibal had something like 19 minutes of screen time. In Seven, we don't see John Doe's face until the last fourth of the movie, but we feel his presence throughout. We see his body from far away as he evades the detectives. But never do we know exactly who he is.
This is one of those brilliant films I have ever seen. The last act alone is one of the most chilling and smart scenes I have ever seen. I knew what to expect as soon as Freeman's character go the package. I knew what was in it, yet I watched with my eyes glued open, breathing to the rhythm of the booming score. It was magnificently executed.
As brilliant as this movie is, there will always be those that can't like it. Just like Silence, it is highly disturbing and there are scenes that may be a bit too much for some. But if you're like me, these are the type of movies that are made for us. A great serial killer just can't be matched in the film world. There aren't a lot of movies that pull it off to perfection, but the ones that do like with Hannibal, like with The Joker, like with John Doe are in a whole different league of films.
David Mills: I've been trying to figure something in my head, and maybe you can help me out, yeah? When a person is insane, as you clearly are, do you know that you're insane? Maybe you're just sitting around, reading "Guns and Ammo", masturbating in your own feces, do you just stop and go, "Wow! It is amazing how fucking crazy I really am!"? Yeah. Do you guys do that?
But actually, this movie is the best! Nine inch nails intro, the box at the end, and MORGAN FREEMAN!
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Se7en follows detectives Mills and Somerset as they try to track down a serial killer whose pattern is that of the seven deadly sins.
David Fincher has been lauded as some sort of a technical genius recently, especially with his incredible work in the Social Network, but at the time of making Se7en, his reputation was somewhat different. After a long line of music videos, Fincher finally made the move in the movie world with the disappointing Alien 3. Basically, it was time to prove himself. All it takes is the opening credits sequence to do so. Set to a Nine Inch Nails remix, the credits themselves set the mood and tone for the rest of the film brilliantly. From then on, Fincher creates a Blade Runner-esque noir feel to a crumbling city which, lacking a physical evildoer, becomes the villain against Mills and Somerset's dual protagonists. Fincher, whilst living in his previous movies' shadow, isn't afraid to make some bold choices in terms of shooting, working with some disorientating handheld shots to great effect and beautifully obscuring his villain until the reveal. He may not have been the virtuoso that he is now but it's an incredible starting point. Despite the urge to occasionally close-in on a gory set-piece, Fincher restrains from gratuity in many cases, preferring to let our minds do the work that the production team doesn't. The fact that we don't actually see any of the killings is tribute to this fact, but what Fincher shows us in the aftermath is more shocking than any amount of violence alone could do. Fincher also makes sure to focus on the relationships of the piece. The ending being the way it is, it wouldn't work if the emotional connection to the viewer hadn't been set up in the first place. Fincher does this with incredible precision without sacrificing his films grimy tone. It truly is a masterful piece of directing which only began to show his potential for films to come.
Andrew Kevin Walker's script is at once sympathetic and diabolical, especially in the way that it knowingly sets the viewer up to be crushed towards the end. The book which the film is based on may be the starting point for this, but Walker's incredible depth of emotion and knack for realistic dialogue means that this is achieved with that much more impact. The dialogue between Mills and Somerset is beautifully written, achieving a realistic relationship between the two without rushing it along. The natural evolution of a working relationship to start with, then to a true friendship is a brilliant achievement by Walker. It would be easy to shoehorn these two characters into something easily recognisable and clichéd for the sake of time, but it's much more rewarding to see it play out the way it does. The two character Walker brings to life are intricately layered and filled with nuance, even while still on the page.
But the two characters would stay there if it wasn't for Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman's incredible portrayal of the two. Pitt plays Mills, the new guy in town, who is enthusiastic to the point of impatience and who doesn't quite know how to act around people. Despite his initial abrasiveness, Pitt imbues him with such a goofy charm that, even when he's busy tripping over his tongue, he is incredibly likeable. The stark contrast between his demeanour at the office and his attitude at home is played with clever subtlety by Pitt creating a more rounded character than that of your typical buddy-cop movie. His interaction with Gwyneth Paltrow is fantastic as well, being careful to play down the obvious love that he holds for her which makes their relationship seem all the more real. Paltrow's performance here is similarly fantastic, a symbol of hope for most of the characters in the film. Her conversation with Somerset is as emotional as it should be without being a drama and her connection with Mills is that of a young, but clearly in love, couple. Morgan Freeman's performance is amazing as always, but here his godlike unshakable attitude pays off better than other times. His subtle shift towards uncertainty and finally terror is an incredible thing to watch as we see his vainly trying to grasp at the last vestiges of control that he has over his circumstances. It's truly an amazing performance but, then again, it's Morgan Freeman. It's difficult to imagine him turning in anything else. Kevin Spacey, though he's only in the film for a short amount of time, makes an indelible impression on the film. His ranting, just short of manic, performance shows off exactly what Spacey has become famous for; his chameleon-like ability to become any role. Though my favourite performance of his has to be Lester Burnham, this would definitely be a close second next to Verbal Kint. His cold, detached stare which occasionally gives way to furious, operatic speeches is an amazing thing to watch. Richard Schiff, a vastly underrated performer, snatches a few minutes of screen time and turns in a brilliantly murky performance. His smug attitude and impenetrable demeanour make him hypnotic to watch. It's sad he doesn't get to be onscreen for longer. John C. Reilly also makes an appearance in the film, miles away from his jovial Dr. Cox and more towards his character in Platoon without all the cowardice. Bit-parts such as the surviving victim of lust also make for incredible performances but it's these central ones which stick in the mind the longest.
Se7en is a testament and origin point for David Fincher's prowess as a filmmaker, a film noir worthy to be mentioned with the likes of Blade Runner and a horror to stand the test of time. Not for the faint hearted.
Despite the sheer shock factor of the Sloth scene, the defining scene has to be that earth-shaking ending.
It's more comfortable for you to label me as insane.
It's very comfortable.
Fuckin' Dante... poetry-writing faggot! Piece of shit, motherfucker!
This guy's methodical, exacting, and worst of all, patient.
He's a nut-bag! Just because the fucker's got a library card doesn't make him Yoda!
C'mon, he's insane. Look. Right now he's probably dancing around in his grandma's panties, yeah, rubbing himself in peanut butter.
This isn't going to have a happy ending.
Maybe you're just sitting around, reading "Guns and Ammo", masturbating in your own feces, do you just stop and go, "Wow! It is amazing how fucking crazy I really am!"?
Innocent? Is that supposed to be funny? An obese man... a disgusting man who could barely stand up; a man who if you saw him on the street, you'd point him out to your friends so that they could join you in mocking him; a man, who if you saw him while you were eating, you wouldn't be able to finish your meal. After him, I picked the lawyer and I know you both must have been secretly thanking me for that one. This is a man who dedicated his life to making money by lying with every breath that he could muster to keeping murderers and rapists on the streets! A woman... so ugly on the inside she couldn't bear to go on living if she couldn't be beautiful on the outside. A drug dealer, a drug dealing pederast, actually! And let's not forget the disease-spreading whore! Only in a world this shitty could you even try to say these were innocent people and keep a straight face. But that's the point. We see a deadly sin on every street corner, in every home, and we tolerate it. We tolerate it because it's common, it's trivial. We tolerate it morning, noon, and night. Well, not anymore. I'm setting the example. What I've done is going to be puzzled over and studied and followed... forever.