Se7en (1995)

“If we catch John Doe and he turns out to be the devil, I mean if he’s Satan himself, that might live up to our expectations, but he’s not the devil. He’s just a man.”

A friend of mine mentioned he hadn’t seen this film before, so it gave me a chance to watch it again and check it off the list. There’s a lot that can be said about this movie, and it has been one of my favorites for years, so I tried to look for new things this time around, and this is the kind of film where you can always find new things.

For those unfamiliar, Se7en is a 1995 crime thriller starring Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, and it is an iconic film for the both of them. It follows a long-time police investigator near retirement (Freeman) training a young new agent (Pitt) to take over the reigns. The two get caught up investigating a serial killer who bases his string of murders on the seven deadly sins.

The film was a huge success and remains a favorite for many due to many clear reasons. The plot is clever. The dialogue is smart and insightful. The two lead performances and a surprise supporting appearance by Kevin Spacey are all fantastic. The cinematography is innovative – and so on and so on. It’s a good film.

I’m always amused by the intro sequence which really reflects the grunge movement that took root in the 1990s. Big scary music plays with jumpy grunge text skittering across the screen. I know many people still love the intro for setting a dark tone, but I think it’s a little silly in 2016 considering the ridicule the grunge movement has come to receive. Nonetheless, the film holds up. The “cop near retirement” trope has become a tired cliche at this point, but Se7en really started the whole idea. Morgan Freeman opposite Brad Pitt is a brilliant contrast that never ceases to be interesting.

I have often wondered if this movie would have the same impact on people without the famous twist ending. I think the ending really is the most genius part of the movie, one that I wish I could unknow and discover again, but the movie doesn’t even need it. The acting is phenomenal, and the twisted nature of John Doe comes through even without the final scene. The movie is suspenseful and terrifying, and you just can’t help but get lost in Freeman and Pitt as they unravel this story.

If I want to fancy myself a film critic, I suppose I should start to criticize some things about the films I love. Well, fine. The script isn’t the most airtight. I am always a little disappointed that “Envy” is just sort of jammed into John Doe’s final act through a line of dialogue to justify it without any real gravitas to match “Wrath.” Pacing also seems to be a bit of an issue, as if the script really took its time to dig into the sins in the beginning but feels compelled to rush towards the finale about two-thirds in. Also, as stated earlier, the grunge stuff is kinda silly.

Hopefully I’ll have some new favorites after I finish reviewing all these movies, but Se7en will always hold a place in my heart. It’s one of those movies I never get tired of seeing, and I envy (ha) anyone who hasn’t gotten to experience it for the first time. It got me into the idea of understanding great cinema, and isn’t that what all this is about?


Films Left to Watch: 997

About Travis

I'm a software engineer reviewing a bunch of movies.
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