"An undoubted modern classic."

Having moved to one of the most crime-filled cities in America, the young and headstrong Detective Mills (Brad Pitt) is partnered with the older and more cynical Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman), who is just one week away from retirement. Together they come across a serial killer whose murders are based on the seven deadly sins.

To cut right to the chase, Se7en is a superb slice of cinema. With a cast all on top form, a script from Andrew Kevin Walker which should be considered a seminal piece of writing and an ending that takes your already-battered emotions and finishes them off, David Fincher’s masterpiece has both style and substance.

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In terms of the style, one of the first things you notice is the intensely bleak atmosphere. Aiming to fill the audience with a sense of creepiness and forboding (a task he achieves in spades), Fincher mostly films in dark and dimly lit areas while the relentlessly-raining unnamed-city is realistically drawn as a decaying and gloomy place, where violence and corruption are par for the polluted course. Only showing us the disturbing aftermaths of the killings and not the deeds themselves (how very Manhunter), Fincher lets our imaginations do the work for us.

As for the substance, there’s much more here than just a gruesome crime thriller. Though many will just pigeon-hole it as a ‘let’s find the bad guy’ cop flick (It’s actually more about what he will do next and if they will catch him at all), Se7en revolves around the nature of humanity and how people view the world the live in. As beautifully reflected by polar opposites Mills and Somerset (their “you can’t afford to be this naïve” bar chat is key), it takes its time to look at the ills of modern life, the effects they have and how society reacts to the evils all around. Most will probably think that force-feeding someone spaghetti till they burst is a tad too far but John Doe gets his point across.

Giving a lesson in restraint and subtlety, Morgan Freeman cements his position as one of the greatest actors of this – or any other for that matter – generation. Playing opposite, the perma hair-flattening Brad Pitt does a nice line in comic timing and gives the optimistic spark the movie needs, Gwyneth Paltrow lends emotional weight despite being underused and Kevin Spacey makes a massive impact way beyond his screen time. Elsewhere there’s support from Richard Roundtree, R Lee Ermey and John C McGinley. Guess when you’re up against a killer of this calibre you need Shaft, the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket and, er, Dr Cox from Scrubs (well he is pretty mean).

Though Andrew Kevin Walker self-depricatingly joked that his script would result in a “pretentious slasher movie”, Se7en is cinema at its best and an undoubted modern classic.

Reviewed on: 14 Dec 2008
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Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt are cops who investigate a series of killings connected by the seven deadly sins.
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Gator MacReady ****

Director: David Fincher

Writer: Andrew Kevin Walker

Starring: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Richard Roundtree, R. Lee Ermey, John C. McGinley, Julie Araskog, Kevin Spacey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Andy Walker, Daniel Zacapa, Bob Mack, Gene Borkan, Michael Reid Mackay, Richard Portnow, Cat Mueller, Heidi Schanz

Year: 1995

Runtime: 127 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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