Se7en (1995) reviews and overview

 
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Seven – usually stylized as Se7en – is a 1995 American horror thriller feature film written by Andrew Kevin Walker, directed by David Fincher, and distributed by New Line Cinema. The movie stars Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, with Gwyneth Paltrow, R. Lee Ermey, and Kevin Spacey in supporting roles.

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The film was released in the United States on September 22, 1995. Grossing $327 million at the box office internationally, Se7en was a commercial success and received positive reviews from most critics.

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Plot:

In an unidentified city of near-constant rain and urban decay, the soon-to-be retiring Detective William R. Somerset (Freeman) is partnered with short-tempered Detective David Mills (Pitt) who recently transferred to the department.

The detectives investigate a series of murders relating to the seven deadly sins, such as an obese man who was forced to feed himself to death, representing “Gluttony.” They find clues at each crime scene related to other deaths and believe they are chasing a serial killer. A set of fingerprints found at the scene of the “Greed” murder, the fatal bloodletting of a rich attorney, leads them to an apartment where they find an emaciated man strapped to a bed.

Though he initially appears to be dead, it soon is discovered that the man has been kept alive and entirely immobile by the killer for exactly one year to the day; a drug dealer and child molester before his captivity, this victim represents “Sloth”, and dies soon after from shock. Though unable to learn anything from the insensate victim, the detectives agree that the killer has planned these crimes for more than a year.

Somerset is eventually invited to meet Mills’ wife, Tracy (Paltrow), who is unhappy with Mills’ recent move to the city. Somerset becomes Tracy’s confidante, and she meets with him after the first few murders. Upon learning that she is pregnant but has not told her husband, Somerset confides in her his fear that the city is no place to start a family, and reveals that he had ended a relationship years earlier after pressuring his girlfriend to have an abortion. Somerset advises her to not tell Mills if she plans to have an abortion; otherwise, if she decides to keep the child, “spoil that kid every chance you get”.

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Using library records, Somerset and Mills track down a man named John Doe, who has frequently checked out books related to the deadly sins. When Doe finds the detectives approaching his apartment, he opens fire on them and flees, chased by Mills.

Eventually, Doe gains the upper hand and holds Mills at gunpoint, but then abruptly leaves. Investigation of Doe’s apartment finds handwritten volumes of his irrational judgments and clues leading to another potential victim, but no fingerprints. They arrive too late to find their “Lust” victim, a prostitute killed by an unwilling man wearing a bladed S&M device, forced by Doe to simultaneously rape and kill her. Sometime later, they investigate the death of a young model whose face had been mutilated. Having chosen to kill herself rather than live with a disfigured face, she is the victim of “Pride”…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“The film’s world is so shadowy, decaying and intentionally dated that one often wonders whether anyone involved has heard of electricity; at the same time, however, Somerset and Mills’ slow voyage from claustrophobic murk into blinding light makes for a vivid dramatic metaphor. Moreover, Fincher handles the violence with sensitivity, announcing its obscenity in spoken analyses and briefly glimpsed post mortem shots, but never showing the murderous acts themselves.” Time Out

Seven is well-made in its details and uncompromising in the way it presents the disturbing details of the crimes. It is certainly not for the young or the sensitive. Good as it is, it misses greatness by not quite finding the right way to end. All of the pieces are in place, all of the characters are in position, and then – I think the way the story ends is too easy. Satisfying, perhaps. But not worthy of what has gone before.” Roger Ebert 

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“It’s the quality of Seven‘s production and acting that makes it such an engaging genre classic. Even as repeated viewings throw up glaring plot holes, the detail in Gary Wissner’s art direction is often startling. Viewed on Blu-ray, this detail is more evident than ever, with flickering torches lighting up the oddly beautiful textures of peeling paint and rotten wood.” Den of Geek! Blu-ray review

Cast and characters:

  • Brad Pitt as Detective David Mills – World War Z
  • Morgan Freeman as Detective Lieutenant William Somerset
  • Gwyneth Paltrow as Tracy Mills, David’s wife
  • Kevin Spacey as John Doe
  • R. Lee Ermey as Police Captain
  • John C. McGinley as SWAT team leader California
  • Richard Roundtree as District Attorney Martin Talbot
  • Richard Schiff as Mark Swarr
  • Julie Araskog as Mrs Gould
  • Mark Boone Junior as Greasy FBI Man
  • John Cassini as Officer Davis
  • Reg E. Cathey as Coroner
  • Peter Crombie as Doctor O’Neill
  • Hawthorne James as George
  • Michael Massee as Man in Massage Parlour Booth
  • Leland Orser as Crazed Man in Massage Parlour
  • Richard Portnow as Doctor Beardsley
  • Daniel Zacapa as Detective Taylor
  • Alfonso Freeman as Fingerprint Tech
  • Harris Savides as 911 Operator
  • Andrew Kevin Walker as Dead Man
  • Richmond Arquette as Delivery Man
  • Heidi Schanz as “pride” victim

Se7en (1995)

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