SE7EN

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E.C.McMullen Jr.
Se7en
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SE7EN aka SEVEN - 1995
USA Release: Sep. 22, 1995
New Line Cinema
Rated: USA: R

Just as a Director or Writer who makes a chilling Mystery or Cat and Mouse Flick will forever (at least in my foreseeable lifetime) be measured up against the late great Alfred Hitchcock, so anyone making a slow paced Crime thriller that features stomach turning crimes will be compared (favorably or otherwise) to either Thomas Harris or Jonathon Demme.

The writer behind SE7EN is Andrew Kevin Walker, whose impressive list of Horror movie credits include BRAINSCAN, 8MM, and SLEEPY HOLLOW. The director is David Fincher who debuted terribly with the disappointing ALIEN 3. Why he was given such a lucrative and very popular movie franchise when he had been so untested is anyone's guess. Technically speaking ALIEN 3 was well directed. But there was a distinct lack of care for the characters as well as the story. How fortunate then, that Fincher saves himself with SE7EN. For SE7EN is a smashing good upset in the world of cinema. SE7EN grabs you with hooks unseen and takes you to parts unknown. In American Hollywood movie making, there is nothing like SE7EN and that is a very good thing.

Morgan Freeman (EYEWITNESS, OUTBREAK, KISS THE GIRLS) is Detective William Sommerset. With one week left before retirement, he is assigned a new partner in the form of an immature, thrill seeking Detective David Mills (Trust me, this never slides into Lethal Weapon territory) who is played by Brad Pitt (TRUE ROMANCE, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, KALIFORNIA, 12 MONKEYS, THE DEVIL'S OWN).

This movie marks the second time in my mind that I have had the chance to see Brad Pitt play a role that really defined him as an actor: the first time being 12 MONKEYS. Brad acts, and well, without carrying over his pretty boy persona. As in 12 MONKEYS (and later in The Fight Club) Brad is not afraid to be either ugly or unsexy in his role. Nowhere in this film is there a moment of "pose". Brad instead becomes the character of David Mills. Playing opposite the talented AND skilled Morgan Freeman, it was vital that Brad carry his half of the burden. Pitt performs admirably alongside the veteran Freeman and these two together, with their teamwork and conflicts, produce a marvelous "buddy" movie whose every interaction rings true.

These two men are on the trail of a demented serial killer. One who is killing people according to the punishments of the Seven Deadly Sins. The first to be found is an obese man who was killed by being forced at gunpoint to stuff himself with food until his digestive organs burst internally, thus killing him.

The sophisticated, but world weary Sommerset finds that the murder may be more than it appears, and with a second seemingly separate murder, the old Detective sets himself on the trail of a serial killer. Unfortunately, no one else realizes that Sommerset knows what he is talking about, despite his years of experience. Certainly not his new partner, who has yet to respect or earn the respect, of Sommerset. But then comes the third grisly murder, and each one is worse than the one before. The story and pacing of the film takes us slowly down into the spiraling depths of the killer's depravity - sometimes appearing to wallow in it.

The timed and careful movement of the film allows us to understand the severe nature of the various deaths, as opposed to throwing the bodies at us in a gore-hound loving spree of "Look what we can do next!" As such, the images of death and suffering are that much more acute, and the grim tale that unweaves before us takes us to places we not only didn't expect, but hoped the movie would not go.

The great Make-up Special Effects Artist, Rob Bottin brings his most skillful touch to this movie making every victim as life-like as possible. True to his nature of absolute realism, Rob sat through an actual autopsy prior to working on this film in order to get an accurate view of just how a body, investigated by a forensic specialist, should look on the table. Bottin has always been known as an artist who will work himself to exhaustion in his pursuit of perfection and he has never left me in anything less than awe of his handicraft.

Bringing up the rear in the cast, but no less significant for that, is the role of Gwyneth Paltrow (THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY) as David Mills wife Tracy. She followed her man to the big city but only for love and marriage. She hates it there and is unable to deal with her husband's increasing desire for "glory".

Also in the cast and superb as always is Kevin Spacy (OUTBREAK, A TIME TO KILL, L.A. CONFIDENTIAL) in a role you won't soon forget. I know I can't.

SE7EN has its flaws but they are quite minor and never distract from the dark beauty of this film. I give it 4 Shriek Girls.

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 1999 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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