Director – David Fincher
Cast – Bard Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, R. Lee Erney, Kevin Spacey
Release Year – 1995
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Se7en is a film that will be remembered for ages due to how simply amazing it is. David Fincher is one of Hollywood’s most well known directors and simply has a knack for delivering awesome films that are always under the radar. Which is not a bad thing at all, its actually more respectful in my eyes for him to take a film that is not meant to be a blockbuster, and turn it into one of the greatest films of all time. He first broke onto the feature film directing scene with the third installment of the Aliens series, Alien 3. After Alien 3 Mr. Fincher went haywire and gave us Se7en, Fight Club, The Game, Panic Room, Zodiac, and most recently, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Pretty good for a guy who’s only claim to fame was directing Madonna music videos.
This film follows two homicide detectives(Freeman & Pitt) in their search for a sadistic serial killer who justifies his crimes as a way to display the world’s ignorance of the “Seven Deadly Sins”. The serial killer, “John Doe”, terrorizes Detectives Sommerset(Freeman) and Mills(Pitt) with clues hidden within or around the mutilated remains of those who were unfairly punished for crimes not actually against the laws of the land. As the detectives get closer to catching the elusive “John Doe”(the epic Kevin Spacey), they slowly become drawn into an elaborate trap set up to destroy the life of one of the detectives, while giving him exactly what he wanted all along.
As I mentioned earlier, this is the film that really brought out David Fincher’s filmmaking abilities. I can honestly find no major flaws with this film. The script is great, the acting is great, the direction is amazing, the cinematography is grainy and perfect for the mood of this film, and the story simply kicks ass. Films about law enforcement trying to catch a sadistic serial killer had been done before at the time of this film(e.g., The Silence of the Lambs), however Se7en brought us a more sadistic killer, with much better kills than we’d been exposed to in previous serial killer films. The fact that we are never shown any of the deaths as they happen just makes this film even better as we are forced to use our own imagination as to how the killer carries himself, until Kevin Spacey finally makes his epic entrance into the film in a scene that honestly gave me goosebumps the first time I saw it. Freeman and Pitt are excellent in this film as well, with Freeman playing the seasoned veteran one week away from retiring, and Pitt playing a young hotshot on the rise who gets transferred to Freeman’s precinct.
The gore in this film is shocking, yet not overdone. “John Doe” picked perfect, mind numbing scenarios for the deaths of each “martyr” in order portray his vision of crime and punishment for those who have broken the Seven Deadly Sins that were originally used in very early Christian teachings. Some of these scenarios were really terrifying, and would have been amazingly gory had we actually seen these scenarios in real time. Normally, I would complain at the notion of only seeing the aftereffects and none of the “good stuff“, however in this case I believe it benefit’s the film that we only see the aftermath as it only adds to the mystery of the killer, and why he does what he does. It is because of this that the viewer never loses interest in the film, and we owe Mr. Fincher and writer Andrew Kevin Walker a round of applause for heading in that direction. “John Doe” is truly epitome of the perfect serial killer; one who does not fear and believes he is right and everyone else is wrong. You can compare that mentality to Heath Ledger’s portrayal of “The Joker”, in which he feared nothing, and loved nothing, which made him the ultimate criminal to defeat, for he did not fear any type of punishment and had absolutely nothing to lose or hold on to.
I wont go into spoilers with this, but I must admit that the ending to this film is one of the greatest endings I have ever seen. The last 10 minutes are nerve wrecking. You are left with countless ideas in your mind as to what is going to happen, only to be led to an event so shocking and terrifying, you wont believe it is really happening. I am not exaggerating one bit. The ending really makes the film. It completes a saga that Sommerset and Mills were simply unprepared for, and had no understanding of until it all falls together in and ending so smart, and so very well written.
I had no major problems with this film, although a few minor things kept me from giving this film a perfect 10 rating. One is that this film did drag a little bit with some scenes that could have been shortened to improve pacing a bit. This is not really a demerit for David Fincher, as I believe all of the scenes in the film were needed either to explain the story, or for development, but a few times I found myself thinking…”ok…this has gone on long enough”. My only other knock against this film is the lack of action. I’m not saying that this film should have been turned into a cliché action film, but I believe that a few more minutes of suspense toward the middle of the film would have made this film all the more enjoyable. This is probably what most likely lead to this film’s cinematic cousin, The Silence of the Lambs, winning Best Picture at the Oscars(although it also won Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress), while Se7en was only nominated for “Best Film Editing”. I honestly believed David Fincher was robbed of at least a Best Director nomination, but that is another argument for another time(Se7en‘s “John Doe“ actor Kevin Spacey went on to win an Oscar the same year for his other 1995 film, The Usual Suspects).
Overall, this is simply one of the best films of all time, and will be enjoyed by horror fans and non-horror fans alike. Watch this NOW!