Seven is a dark and chilling thriller about a couple of homicide detectives trying to catch a serial killer who commits murders based on the seven deadly sins. This is a shocking and rather disturbing film which draws you in and holds your attention for the full two hours. It packs a powerful punch and leaves a lasting impression.
Brad Pitt plays the naive youngster who just made detective and he is partnered with the retiring incumbent, a cynical and experienced detective played by Morgan Freeman. The first victim they discover appears to have eaten himself to death. A festering house reveals his disgustingly bloated corpse slumped over the kitchen table. As they begin to investigate a second murder is committed, this time a lawyer who has been forced to cut a pound of flesh from his own body, the word Greed is scrawled on the floor in blood.
Freeman is days away from retiring but becomes drawn into the case, partly out of concern for the young Pitt as the two begin to develop a friendship. Freeman is the wizened old hand doubting his worth but he manages to figure out the link between the murders and his theory is confirmed when they discover the third victim, Sloth. The idea behind this murder is truly horrific and the discovery scene is very unsettling. Given that the first murder was Gluttony we know there are four to go - Pride, Lust, Envy and Wrath.
The film was directed by the talented David Fincher. He creates a dark and oppressive atmosphere partly through the use of a series of dilapidated dingy indoor locations and constant traffic and rain in the outdoor scenes. The soundtrack is also subdued and there is not overly much in the way of dialogue. This depressing background is affirmed by Freeman´s negative outlook on life and the fact that he is ultimately right about the evil in the world, something that Pitt cannot accept as he is still harbouring the delusion that he can make a difference.
The acting in the film is superb and it features a great cast. I think Morgan Freeman gives one of his finest displays as the dour Detective Lt. William Somerset. Brad Pitt is completely convincing as the rookie Detective David Mills and Gwyneth Paltrow plays his high school sweetheart and wife Tracy. Kevin Spacey is very creepy as the evil mastermind John Doe and R Lee Emery pops up as the Police Captain.
The screenplay was written by Andrew Kevin Walker, he also wrote 8mm and both films delve deep into the dark underbelly of society. There is a definite social comment here about the decline of moral standards and the failure of the common man to challenge perversions. Every one is looking the other way in modern cities and letting the devils run amok. He seems to suggest that the situation is worsening and paints a bleak picture of urban decay and madness.
This film came out in 1995 and managed to liven up a fairly stagnant genre. Detective thriller movies are extremely common and mostly not worth watching but this film stands out as a much darker and more serious piece of entertainment which almost borders on horror in places. Although it is disturbing it is also fascinating and keeps you guessing right up until the horrific climax.