Fincher’s now-classic ‘90s take on the grisly investigative crime movie is engrossing, well-made, and may well chill you to the bone.
Dir. David Fincher
1995 | USA | Crime/Drama/Mystery | 127 mins | 2.39:1 | English
M18 (passed clean) for grisly afterviews of horrific and bizarre killings, and for strong language
Cast: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Gwyneth Paltrow
Plot: Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his motives.
Awards: Nom. for Best Film Editing (Oscars)
Subject Matter: Slightly Disturbing
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream
If David Fincher’s infamous assertion that he disowned Alien 3 (1992) has any bearing, Se7en might be seen as his first true feature film.
It certainly bears many of the hallmarks of his later investigative crime films, particularly his masterpiece, Zodiac (2007), his English-language remake of the Scandinavian hit, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), and Gone Girl (2014).
Se7en is as disquieting as these films, but it may be Fincher’s grisliest film as it centres on an absolutely evil if also incredibly smart serial killer whose methods boggle—and haunt—the minds of two detectives assigned to the cases.
Morgan Freeman plays the older veteran who desperately wants to retire, while Brad Pitt is his new, sometimes reckless, sidekick.
“Wanting people to listen, you can’t just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you’ll notice you’ve got their strict attention.”
Their well-developed love-hate relationship with each other subtly makes the movie tick, but it is Fincher’s slick visual style (lensed by the great Iranian cinematographer Darius Khondji) and paired with the disturbing subject matter that makes it tremendously engrossing.
As the killer carries out his gruesome torture-murders in the name of the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ (thankfully we only see the aftermaths, which are ghastly enough), Fincher’s consistent focus on detective work and his commitment to developing a tense and unpredictable atmosphere very much builds up with increasing dread to the much talked about finale.
Not as critically well-lauded as its popular status as a classic ‘90s flick might have led you to believe, Se7en remains effective and a clever piece of crime cinema even on my second viewing.
Of course, if this is one of those films that you admit to not having seen, that first viewing may well chill you to the bone.