Se7en (1995): Yell! Magazine’s Greatest Films Series



Directed by David Fincher Written by Andrew Kevin Walker
Starring Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey

127 mins - Crime | Mystery | Thriller - Release date: 22 September 1995

Yell! Review:

Se7en is David Fincher’s second greatest film (Fight Club being his best). Se7en has all the signature darkness that Fincher is famous for (whether it is in the physical world or in the minds of the main characters). Invariably, most indoor scenes need the characters to use flashlights and when they travel out of doors it is at night or in rotten weather. Even Detective Mills’ (played by Brad Pitt) house isn’t comfortable as the subway shakes the hell out of it every few minutes. David Fincher never lets his audience feel comfortable in their seats.

Se7en‘s story is what sets it apart from so many other thriller/crime dramas of the last 50 years. It is sick enough to grab and hold you, but not so fantastic enough to make it unbelievable. You can understand the twisted logic of the serial killer who murders his victims for their blatant and repeated disregard for one of the seven deadly sins. You can see how he can believe that he is sent by God to teach humanity a lesson.

Se7en greed

But it is the story’s two plot twists that shoot this film into the stratosphere, joining Silence of the Lambs, Rear Window and a few others as the all-time greats of the genre. When you thought you were in for a straight-forward plot where Mills and Somerset (Morgan Freeman) investigate seven murders and find enough clues to finally catch the bad guy, John Doe (the killer in question played brilliantly by Kevin Spacey) shows up at the police station covered in blood ready to turn himself in.

Now your quizzical juices are flowing trying to figure out what Fincher and writer Andrew Kevin Walker have in store for you. The climax, and the second plot twist I am speaking of, has Doe himself becoming a transgressor in one of the deadly sins (envy and the sixth broken in the film) making Mills the seventh (vengeance) if he follows through with the behavior Doe expects him to.

seven chalk board

There are so many other reasons for the greatness of this film other than the plot. The performances of Freeman, Pitt, and Spacey are so masterful that you forget they are acting. Previous to this film, Pitt had always been criticized for being a pretty boy who is more look than talent, but with Se7en he makes those critics look stupid.

The relationship between the disillusioned Somerset and idealistic Mills is the force driving the story forward and when Mills is brought down off his pedestal (proving Somerset’s view of humanity as correct), the fall is all the more devastating. Pitt shines most in this scene (where he executes Doe). His facial expressions, first of disbelief then of realization, then from murderous anger to hesitating anguish, are a talented display of acting prowess.

seven ending pitt freeman spacey

Fincher, with Se7en, transformed himself from a director of little merit, coming from a music video background and an unsuccessful attempt at continuing the greatness of the Alien franchise, to the only brilliant MTV export and one of the best young directors in Hollywood. Fight Club cemented this fact.

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