Latest posts by Ash Isaac (see all)
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Seven or ‘Se7en’, if you prefer the pretentious way of spelling it, is a modern day morality tale starring Brad Pitt as David Mills, an overzealous and volatile young detective while Morgan Freeman fulfils his standard typecast acting duties as the wise owl partner Somerset; cynical, institutionalised, jaded, but he knows how to get things done. Somerset is, of course, on the brink of retirement unless something wicked should come along like, oooh, let’s say Kevin Spacey as a homicidal version of Jeremy Kyle, intent on exposing the hypocrisies, insecurities and all round turpitude of everyday life.
Gluttony, sloth, lust, pride, envy, greed and wrath. The seven deadly sins of which at least 3, (possibly more), Mr Spacey may have been guilty of one night on Clapham Common, but hey, we’ve all been there, right? For his first trick, John Doe, (Kev) decides to track down a morbidly obese American, (presumably pretty straightforward), before literally feeding him to death. Word of warning, if you thought this particular act of malfeasance was graphic then you’re probably not going to enjoy the rest of the film.
Most of the action takes place in an unnamed urban metropolis in a state of terminal decay. It rains non-stop, it’s always dark, murky and people don’t make eye contact for fear of reprisals, probably London. Gwyneth Paltrow puts in a pouty performance as Mills’ wife, no doubt peeved at having to move to aforementioned city to further her husband’s career.
After the two detectives come across the bloated corpse of John Doe’s first victim, Somerset’s wily cop intuition is already suspecting that rather than just an isolated incident this is clearly the work of some nefarious master criminal hell-bent on concocting ever more elaborate murders just to prove a point. It’s the natural conclusion to jump to.
Fairly soon they come across the next victim, a slimy lawyer mutilated and bled to death. ‘Greed’ spelt out in blood on the shag pile next to the body just in case you weren’t sure what sin lawyers are usually associated with. The murders become increasingly squeamish and grisly and not even the normally reassuring tenor of Morgan Freeman’s voice or his deep, expressive eyes can avert your attention from the gruesome fate of the victims.
Gwynnie confides to Somerset her doubts about living in the city and raising a family. Rather than telling her to grab her husband and run a mile, he just mopes about his past failed relationships. Yes, Seven is that rare film, completely and utterly devoid of any light relief or moments of levity whatsoever. Even the gaps between the murders are filled with unremitting gloom and depression. It’s about as bleak as a burning orphanage and should probably never be watched alone or directly after having a meal.
Somerset and Mills do eventually track John Doe down, or more accurately, he surrenders himself to them after seemingly having completed only 5 out of the 7 murders he was scheduled to do. Alarm bells are ringing! In the film’s shocking denouement, John Doe asks to be driven out to the middle of nowhere by the detectives so that he can finally reveal the true extent of his Saw-like machinations. They acquiesce to his demand which is a little bizarre in that they wouldn’t take requests from a run-of-the-mill psychotic let alone someone who regularly slices the top of his fingers off so as to avoid identification.
Soon enough, John Doe is in the back of a police car, (insert Kevin Spacey joke here), and heading for the completion of his piece de resistance. That’s right, it’s time to play Deal or No Deal! Noel Edmonds couriers out a box to be delivered to the detectives as they arrive at their destination. Somerset signs for the Fedex while Mills keeps a close eye on John Doe. ‘’What’s in the box?!” Mills screams with all the anguish of someone who has turned down a good offer from the banker only to see all the big money disappear. It turns out the contents of the box are relatively worthless, (it’s Gwynnie’s head), and in a fit of pique Mills shoots John Doe in the head thus bringing to a close the whole bloody shebang. The horror, the horror.