Written by Andrew Kevin Walker and Directed by David Fincher (who went on to direct the acclaimed Fight Club and more recently Zodiac), Seven is one of the few movies that combines an incredible story and gritty cinematography to give you an experience which stays with you long after the movie is over. You may not like what you see but you will definitely be affected by it.
It follows the story of two detectives, one a cynical veteran William Sommerset played by Morgan Freeman who is on his way to retire and the other a brash and cocky new kid on the block David Mills played by Brad Pitt. Lurking in this grim urban environment of some unnamed American city, is a brilliant but twisted individual who has devised an orderly series of crimes that deliver a chilling message. The movie takes us from the tortured remains of one victim to the next on the trail of a serial killer who justifies his crimes as redemption for the world’s ignorance of the Seven Deadly Sins (gluttony, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and wrath).Gluttony is depicted first with the murder of an enormously obese man whose organs burst from eating too much. A high-powered criminal attorney is required to cut a pound of flesh off his own body to illustrate the perils of greed and so on. The two unlikely partners initially struggle, as while Somerset is conservative and by the book, Mills is impulsive and rash, but they eventually do settle down as an efficient team. Struggling with her own demons Gwyneth Paltrow as Brad Pitt’s sensitive uncertain wife adds a dazzle of innocence to this noir. Seven is one intricate puzzle and all the pieces come together and fall right into place. The movie doesn’t feature any explicit violence as the murders themselves are not actually depicted but the handiwork of the killer is shown in exceptional detail offering a perfect insight into the darkest corners of the human psyche.
Leading the high profile cast of the movie, Morgan Freeman is impressive as the cynical professional who has seen it all whereas Gwyneth Paltrow shines in a miniscule role. Brad Pitt puts in a credible performance but is far from his best. Kevin Spacey as the unremorseful killer, trying to prove to the world that no sin will go unpunished, is incomparable.
What holds the film together aside from Morgan Freeman’s stellar performance is the atmosphere created by the style of cinematography which lends an abrasive comic book feel to the movie. The striking craftsmanship by cinematographer Darius Khondji ensures that every shot in the picture is extraordinary making the film one of the most brilliant and brutal in its genre.
All in all, Seven is a disturbing and intelligent thriller, well worth a watch.