Top 365 Films – #014 – Se7en (1995)


Top 365 Films - Se7enDIRECTED BY: David Fincher

STARRING: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Spacey, R. Lee Ermey, John C. McGinley, Richard Roundtree, Richard Schiff, Julie Araskog, Mark Boone Junior, John Cassini, Reg E. Cathey, Peter Crombie, Hawthorne James, Michael Massee, Leland Orser, Richard Portnow, Daniel Zacapa, Alfonso Freeman, Harris Savides, Andrew Kevin Walker and Richmond Arquette

BUDGET: $33m

EARNED (Worldwide): $327.3m

AWARDS: None (Oscar Nomination for Best Film Editing and BAFTA Nomination for Best Original Screenplay)

 

SYNOPSIS

Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi.

 

Se7en (also known as Seven) takes us to an unnamed city where we follow two homicide detectives, the soon-to-be-retiring Detective William Somerset, who in the short time he has left is partnered up with the short-tempered but idealistic Detective David Mills, who recently transferred to the department. Soon they’re landed with a case that leads to a desperate hunt for a serial killer that is operating his methods in the vein of the seven deadly sins, leading to one sickening victim after the other as Somerset and Mills are in a race against time to stop him the serial killer from creating his masterpiece.

 

Se7en (or Seven pending on your preference) was definitely one way to clear your name after your first directorial feature debut was considered to be a bomb critically among the masses (though financially it was fine) for director David Fincher in telling this dark, cruel tale about two detectives on the hunt of a serial killer committing murders in the vein of meeting his views upon his victims in the vein of following the seven deadly sins. The film smartly keeps the serial killer on the background throughout until the films final act, only letting us witnesses the aftermath horrors of the crimes he’s committed and allowing us to know the detectives and their personalty traits as they are pulled deeper into the case as they’re on a race against time to stop him from completing his task. It’s been twenty years (already!) since its cinematic release and the film still has that noir-throwback style feel to it that makes it timeless, no thanks in small part to the city in which the film takes place in remains nameless, which somehow gives the film a surreal feel to the dark and twisted material that unfolds before us. The direction from David Fincher is great, you can see the stylistic choices and techniques that he’s developed over the years being used here before going on to direct the likes of Fight Club, Zodiac and The Social Network. In terms of how the story holds up after multiple viewings for me it hasn’t lost it’s effect on how I initially felt when you learn the films outcome, it’s still beautifully built up in tension and suspense and the delivery of the outcome still holds that impact it had though I can understand if it is lost on others. The detectives in question, Somerset and Mills, are still interesting characters to follow, mostly when they’re together confronting their ideologies, with Somerset being the veteran detective who has seen the darkness of the world and is willing to understand the killers mindset in order to stop him while there’s his partner Mills, a rookie in comparison to him and is impulsive and becomes irritated by the killers actions as the film progresses and completely unwilling to entice the idea of understanding the killers reasoning. It helps that the performances provided here by the two detectives are actors Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, who bounce well off each other and the script penned by Andrew Kevin Walker, the only ray of light besides the detectives flashlights that comes into the film in terms of characters is David’s wife Tracy Mills played well by Gwyneth Paltrow.

 

FAVOURITE SCENE: Some will go for the ‘What’s in the box?’ scene but for me it will always be the sloth victim scene. Scared the absolute shit out of me when I was younger, still does now.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: ‘Hemingway once wrote, “The world’s a fine place and worth fighting for.” I agree with the second part.’ – William Somerset

DID YOU KNOW?: While filming the scene where Mills chases John Doe in the rain, Brad Pitt fell and his arm went through a car windscreen, requiring surgery. This accident was worked into the script of the film. Coincidentally, the original script did call for Pitt’s Det. Mills character to be injured during this sequence–but to something other than his hand. As preparation for his traumatic scene in the interrogation room, Leland Orser would breathe in and out very rapidly so that his body would be overly saturated with oxygen, giving him the ability to hyperventilate. He also did not sleep for a few days to achieve his character’s disoriented look. Denzel Washington turned down the part that went to Brad Pitt, telling Entertainment Weekly that the film was too “dark and evil.” Washington later regretted his decision upon seeing a screening. New Line executives originally balked at the film’s ending, but Brad Pitt refused to make the film if the ending were changed. There’s a line in which Mills names motives that killers give; one of them is ‘Jodie Foster told me to do it.’ He is referring to John Hinckley Jr., a man that was obsessed with Jodie Foster and attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan to impress her. The other that Mills says is “My dog told me to do it.”, a reference to David Berkowitz, AKA, the “Son of Sam”, a serial killer who terrorized the New York City area in the summers of 1976 and 1977 and claimed that his neighbor’s dog was possessed and told him to commit murder.

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