out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
Review by Dragan Antulov
2 stars out of 4
One of the most popular sub-genres in 1990s Hollywood was a
serial killer movie. The trend was undoubtedly inspired by the
great success of THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, dark and
disturbing exploration of man's depravity. Naturally, in the years to
come many films tried to mimic "Oscar"-awarded classic, but few
of such efforts proved to be extraordinary. However, one of such
titles aroused great deal of interest, became one of the most
talked about titles of its time and for a brief time even challenged
the reputation of THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS as the best serial
killer movie of our times. This film was SEVEN, 1995 thriller
directed by David Fincher.
The plot of the film, based on the screenplay by Andrew Kevin
Walker, deals with two policemen on a difficult murder
investigation. Detective William Somerset (played by Morgan
Freeman) is an experienced, cynical and world-weary veteran six
days away from pension and he has developed taste for more
cerebral and methodical ways to catch criminals. His young,
ambitious, idealistic partner David Mills (played by Brad Pitt) is
more impulsive and prefers direct approach. Two of them are
paired in a case that begins with the bizarre and vicious murder of
an obese man. It becomes apparent that this murder is just first in
the series -deranged killer has some kind of pseudo-religious
agenda and wants to preach against Seven Deadly Sins by staging
elaborate and indescribably cruel murders in which victims and
the method of their execution fit each particular sin. Somerset and
Mills are taken aback with the levels of cruelty and evil genius, but
also quite determined to catch the psychopath before he fills the
quota and makes seven murders. However, all their experience
and skill can't prepare them for the killer's diabolical scheme in
which they too become unwilling participants.
In its time, SEVEN was hailed as the superb combination of
inventive, original screenplay and great directorial skills and, as
such, viewed as superior to THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.
However, the only area in which Fincher's film can beat Demme's
could be found in the ability to disturb the audience. SEVEN is
definitely one of the most unpleasant films to watch and many
viewers could be haunted by its dark atmosphere and shocking
images. However, the film itself is less original than it looks.
Walker's screenplay employs some cliches, including the most
obvious one - LETHAL WEAPON-style pairing of two detectives
who are written as the complete opposites of each other. Another
cliche is directly picked from THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS -
serial killer with god-like abilities and unlimited amounts of money
and free time that allows him to plan and execute murder schemes
with complexity worthy of German General Staff. In SEVEN this
concept is driven to the extreme and, as a result, most of the plot's
plausibility and realism is thrown through the window. To the
experienced viewer, even the seemingly "shocking" finale doesn't
come as a surprise at all - the atmosphere of the film is so dark
and the evil that confronts the protagonists is so powerful, that the
viewers won't have to read Borges' stories before they guess the
outcome. The only good thing about that finale is the fact that it
defies some of the unwritten laws of 1990s Hollywood, but this isn't
enough for SEVEN to deserve its cult-like reputation.
Script flaws are, on the other hand, are somewhat compensated
by David Fincher's directorial skills, definitely improved after
ALIEN^3 fiasco. Although his background as a videoclip director
sometimes rears its ugly head (most notably in "cool" opening
titles), he manages to create truly compelling atmosphere.
Carnage on the film is shocking and deeply disturbing, yet it is
presented indirectly - through character's reactions.
Unfortunately, in an attempt to maintain dark atmosphere, Fincher
goes too far and Darius Khondji's photography is literally too dark
and viewers at times have an impression of experiencing a radio
play instead of feature film. The acting is, on the other hand, more
than satisfying. Morgan Freeman is an actor capable of holding
over water much worse films than this one, and his role of an old
detective is one of the rare eye-pleasing things in this dark movie.
He managed to overshadow his partner Pitt, same as Kevin
Spacey in a minor but chillingly effective role.
All in all, SEVEN is overrated film, but it is still well-done and could
satisfy refined tastes of viewers who want something different
from Hollywood and are willing to risk their stomach contents to
Copyright © 2002 Dragan Antulov
Buy movie posters!