A buddy cop movie with a seasoned old hand so close to retirement they’re already scraping his name off the door and his hotshot, firebrand young replacement, this couldn’t be further from another Lethal Weapon. Yes, one’s a family man and the other’s a loner, one is prone to anger and the other a methodical, careful detective clearly too old for this shit, but where Richard Donner’s 80’s staple is an entertaining, action-packed romp, this is something much darker.After a disturbingly evocative opening credits sequence enriched with depth and meaning on repeated viewings, we meet Morgan Freeman’s detective Somerset, picking up his last case, a sickeningly masterful serial killer with a penchant for the seven deadly sins, the same day as Brad Pitt’s Detective Mills arrives to replace him. That’s as much setup as there is, as we follow the mismatched detectives from crime scene to crime scene, via their headquarters and areas of research, with Somerset whiling a night away poring over books in the library, whilst Mills take a brief glance at the Cliff notes.

The script is dotted with well balanced moments of humour – Somerset having dinner with Mills and his wife Tracey (Gwyneth Paltrow) – and some deep black humour: “this guy’s sat in his own piss and shit; if he wasn’t dead he’d’ve stood up by now,” plus R. Lee Ermey’s belligerent, furious Police Captain (“This is not even my desk” is one of my favourite film quotes, ever).

Crucially, we see none of the killer’s murders onscreen, merely their gruesome aftermaths. It’s not as gory as you might remember, but it evokes imagery and feelings that some may find disturbing, not least what happens to Leland Orser’s character, who probably has the worst memories of those who survive. It could be argues that this is a precursor to the Saw franchise, punishing those that seem to deserve it in creative, torturous ways, but at least here we are saved the nightmarish spectacles of witnessing the deaths.

At times the film feels a bit predictable, like a police procedural itself, but whenever this is about to happen the plot shifts direction, taking an unexpected twist to shake things up again. The colour palette of muted greys and browns, interspersed with deep reds amongst the incessant torrential downpour of the nameless city only adds to the feelings of despair.

There’s small roles for John C. McGinley and Richard Schiff in there as well, a nice surprise for me in the opening credits, but unfortunately at times the acting, especially Pitt during the final scenes, leaves something to be desired. The ending has become the stuff of legend, but I won’t reveal it just in case, save that Pitt’s gurning and crying are a bit over the top and take you out of the scene. This is another one of those films where knowing your actors may ruin the film too, as recognising a voice could cause annoyances later on, but not too badly.

Overall this is director David Fincher’s defining film (better than Fight Club in my opinion, though it’s been a while). The gritty tone is perfectly realised through every medium possible, the plot is gripping, the twists hold up and, though far from an enjoyable experience, it remains worthwhile.

Choose film 10/10

10 thoughts on “Seven

  1. For a long time before I essentially eschewed the concept, this along with Fight Club were my two favorite films. I haven't watched it in a long while, I'm rarely in the mood for such a dark film anymore. But it's still very memorable.

  2. I agree with Bubbawheat. Although I haven't seen the film for about eight or so years it has still stuck with me and I remember an awful lot. I'm suprised as said that we don't see any of the murders. Thef ilm felt so greusome in my memory that I guessed we did. I suppose that's one of the reasons I remember it so well. That and the ending.

  3. It wasn't as dark as I remembered, there was more action and humour than I was expecting too. My girlfriend even managed to get though it without nightmares (though it might be because of her love of Morgan Freeman).

  4. I was expecting a lot more bloodshed too. I think you see so much of the aftermath of the murders that you remember more than you're actually shown of the events that took place.

  5. I thought this was a good film, but not one of the best of all time like IMDB voters seem to think. I could see the "what's in the box" bit coming, perhaps because this film, ahem, "borrowed" it from the Coen Brothers movie Barton Fink.

  6. I sense a Top 5… Things in a Box list coming along…I think this is a great film if watched infrequently, but not one to obsess over with a viewing every month.

  7. For "Things in a Box" there is also Pulp Fiction, Ronin, and Belle de Jour – none of which ever shows us what is in them. Whenever I see someone ask, "What does Bill Murray say to Scarlet Johannson at the end of Lost in Translation?" I always answer, "He was telling her what's in the case in Pulp Fiction, in the package in Ronin, and what was buzzing in the small case in Belle de Jour."

  8. Pingback: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) | Life Vs Film

  9. Pingback: Slumdog Millionaire | Life Vs Film

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