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Se7en – Oh, What A Sick World

Posted 31 Aug 2009 — by Jason A. Hill
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Jason A. Hill

Se7en, USA, 1995

Directed by David Fincher

brad pitt and morgan freemanSpoiler Alert

David Fincher’s Se7en is a crime thriller set in what appears to be urban Chicago. Two detectives on two different paths and at different stages in their careers track a methodical serial killer who leaves his victims with symbolic clues to the reasons for their murders based on the “seven deadly sins.”

Throughout the film, we are given a bleak view of the world, where it literally seems to never stop raining. William Somerset (Morgan Freeman), a detective close to retirement, and David Mills (Brad Pitt), a detective just starting his career, pursue John Doe (Kevin Spacey), a psychopathic serial killer who, apparently bored with the ease and randomness of killing the old-fashioned way, needs to channel Dante, Milton and Chaucer to find inspiration for his killings. Very early on it’s clear that the detectives aren’t going to catch this killer; otherwise the film would be called Three or Four. Nope, we are going to see all seven deadly sins, and the only questions are why is John Doe doing this, and how is he going to pull it off?

The tone of the film also takes an overly sympathetic view of the killer. Every victim is discovered with more of their death focusing on their “sin,” or why, rather than how, leaving out any need for detective work. Not that super genius “Yoda” killer John Doe would leave any unintended evidence behind, anyway. And I can accept that the film is more about the killer than the cops chasing him, but why then is his motive so elusive? Is he just a sick psychotic with an irresistible flare for irony, or is he a religious nut, hell-bent on re-making the world in the biblical sense?

Even up to this point, the film can still work, but as with most films that leave me so unfulfilled, its ending is as meaningless as it is memorable. As John Doe turns his foolish police pursuers every which way but loose, he completes his murder opus and turns himself in, but only does so in order to let the full impact of his deeds be felt by Detective Mills.

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