Sunday, May 13, 2012

897. SE7EN (1995)

Running Time: 127 minutes
Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: Andrew Kevin Walker
Main Cast: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Gwyneth Paltrow, R. Lee Ermey
Click here to view the trailer


I've decided to make it a tradition with this blog that when I reach the halfway mark of a batch of 100 films, I'll slip in a personal favorite to mark the occasion. "Se7en" is the fiftieth film I've watched since making my last TOP 20 list and with fifty to go, it's going to be hard to dethrone some of the films I've watched thus far...especially this one.

William Somerset (Freeman) is a detective with one week to go before his retirement. Somerset is fed up with the world that surrounds him, the heinousness that he sees on a day to day basis and wants to escape to the country, to live out the remainder of his years in peace and solitude. David Mills (Pitt) is his replacement - a young, arrogant detective just moved in from out of town with his wife, Tracy (Paltrow). The film kicks off with the detectives being called to the scene of a crime - an obese man who has seemingly eaten himself to death, found with his head buried in a bowl of spaghetti. Later, it is discovered that the crime is indeed a homicide and the sadistic nature of the murder leads Somerset to believe that this is the first in a series. The next day another body is found, that of a defense attorney who has been bled to death - the word "greed" written in blood on the floor of his office. After poking around the obese man's apartment, Somerset finds the word "gluttony" written on the wall, behind his refrigerator, in grease. Therefore, Somerset was right, as a series of murders begin piling up, each one corresponding to one of the seven deadly sins: gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, pride, lust and envy. As Mills and Somerset track down leads, follow clues and visit crime scenes, their relationship turns from sour to friendly, as they track the psychotic serial killer.


This is another one of those personal films that would be filed under the heading of "movies my older brother introduced me to". I can still remember sitting in the bedroom that we shared, me on my bed and my brother on his, as I gripped the edge of my mattress, wondering if/when Mills and Somerset would be victorious. I was younger then and not as film savvy as I am today; the days when a clever plot could entice me as well as a Beggin' Strip would entice a hungry dog. I remember being absolutely and utterly blown away by this movie, buying it soon after and re-watching it dozens of times since that night. If I were to compile a list of ten films that made me want to be a film buff, "Se7en" would almost have to be on it. For me, it doesn't get much better than this. Even tonight, as I watched it for the umpteenth time, my heart still sped up when Mills and Somerset escorted John Doe to the scene of his final act. Goosebumps popped up across the surface of my skin as Somerset sliced open a box and said those tingling lines:

"California, tell your people to stay away. Stay away now, don't - don't come in here. Whatever you hear, stay away! John Doe has the upper hand!"

I can't remember my initial reaction the first time I heard that line, but for a first timer, it must be one of the most chilling lines to ever be uttered on film. What in the world could Somerset mean? How on earth could John Doe have the upper hand? Watching it tonight, it still feels like it takes Somerset forever to run across that field and for us to find out the contents of that dreaded package. It's moments like that that make this movie unforgettable. I also love the lines delivered by Kevin Spacey (John Doe) as he rides with the detectives during those closing moments of the film. Some really heavy stuff, if you think about it. Like this one:

"Only in a world this shitty could you even try to say these were innocent people and keep a straight face. But that's the point. We see a deadly sin on every street corner, in every home, and we tolerate it. We tolerate it because it's common, it's trivial. We tolerate it morning, noon, and night."

I mean, if you really dissect that, there's some truth in it. John Doe can't stand the awful world that he lives in, the world that houses his chosen seven and labels them as innocents. In fact, if you think about it, there's not much difference in the characters of John Doe and William Somerset. Somerset also can't stand the world that he lives in and because of this, he's retiring and moving to the country so that he doesn't have to be a part of such savage surroundings anymore. If you'll notice, every time Mills insults John Doe, calls him a "nutjob" or "insane", Somerset is always there to defend Doe, calling him intelligent, patient and clever. Somerset doesn't condone the actions of Doe, but he does understand. In fact, as the film progresses Somerset becomes more loose, mainly because he meets David and Tracy. It's Tracy especially who wakes him up a little more, when Somerset realizes that he's not the only man in the city with his head on straight and that there are other normal, passionate, caring people that surround him. You get the feeling that if Somerset had never met the Mills', he'd be secretly rooting John Doe on, hoping that he cleans the streets of more debris, so to speak.

Another thought crossed my mind tonight as I watched "Se7en" and I want you to bear with me on this one. I think they should make a sequel! Now, let me explain, please. First of all, I'm the biggest advocate against sequel making that you'll find, but the "Se7en" sequel would be unprecedented in that it would be neither a sequel or a prequel. It would be the first film (to my knowledge) to take the story of the first movie and tell it in a different way - hear me out. What you do is, this time around you make John Doe (Kevin Spacey reprising his role) the main character and make a film about him committing his murders. You start with Victor (the "sloth" victim), showing how Doe kept him alive for one year, pumping him with antibiotics and later, severing his hand. You show Doe killing, torturing and mutilating all of his victims and you present that side of the story. Fans would be familiar with the foot chase scene (the best foot chase in film history, by the way), as the scene where the two films would overlap and instead of having the climax be the ride to the country with Mills and Somerset, have it be Doe's killing of Tracy. Everything Fincher touches turns to gold nowadays, so if you put him at the helm, it'd be great. This is just a pipe dream, but if it happens, you heard it here first.

In closing, let me say this. I always say here on the blog that I "don't deal in definites" when it comes to TOP 20 list making. However, "Se7en" is one that I guarantee will have a spot on my next TOP 20 list - there's no denying that fact. It's one of "my movies", it's one of the films that I fell in love with upon first viewing and it was instrumental in keeping me inside video stores for the better part of my teenage years and beyond, searching for more films that gave me the same feelings, put me into the same dark & dreary atmospheres and provided me with the same amount of suspense as it did. Since starting THE BOOK, my tastes have developed and I've expanded my horizons as far as the types of movies that I enjoy, but "Se7en" is always going to be one of those that gets a free pass from me. There has rarely been a movie that I've dubbed, "Better than Se7en". In fact, for the longest time, it was my second favorite film behind.............well, we'll get to THAT film.

RATING: 10/10  Did you even have to ask what I'd give this? In reality, there probably are a few flaws with "Se7en", but I just don't see them.


May 13, 2012  1:03am


  1. Lowes48SuperstarMay 13, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    Personally My Favourite Fincher film is Fight Club, yet Se7en is pretty good too. I love how he creates the mood the whole way, its a lot like Texas Chainsaw Massacre in that you feel so dirty afterwards. Its always raining except for that final scene. As well Fincher makes brilliant use of cinematography. That shot down the barrel of the gun is brilliant. The idea for a Se7en sequel is brilliant, you should write to Universal studios advocating the idea. Great review, great film.

  2. Thanks Lowes. Your comment humbles me. Keep em comin!


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