Top positive review
11 people found this helpful
The Most Intelligent and Horrific Serial Killer Film Since Silence of the Lambs
on September 7, 2016
What does Dante's "Divine Comedy", Christopher Marlowe's "The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus", John Milton's "Paradise Lost", and the film "Seven" have in common? They all reference the "Seven Deadly Sins". The Seven Deadly Sins, also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins, is a classification of vices propagated by the early Christian Church as being the most objectionable and immoral. They fit within St Augustine's rhetoric in terms of fallen humanity's tendency to sin. The list consists of gluttony, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and wrath. "Seven" incorporates the literary references of the "Seven Deadly Sins" into a compelling but shocking serial killer story.
Brad Pit, in one of his best performances, plays a rookie detective, David Mills, teamed with veteran and soon-to-be-retiring Detective William Somerset, played by Morgan Freeman in one of the best roles of his unequaled career. They are investigating a series of ghastly homicides in an American urban center that seems a helluva lot like Chicago. The veteran detective has seen almost everything an urban cop can endure during an average career before the beginning of the story. However, as events transpire, they reveal things even he, after decades on the force, hasn't experienced. The rookie has no idea what's in store for him, and by movie's end he will have sustained the most horrific experience of a police detective coming-of-age ever shot on film. We get the sense all rookie detectives go through a kind of "baptism of fire" but nothing which would prepare a newbie to the force something as simultaneously horrific and devastating as that presented in "Seven".
Unlike the usual street crime, these murders have a disturbing combination of dreadful horror coupled with high literary intelligence. The killer incorporates religious and literary symbolism into his acts of unspeakable violence and murder. Each act and victim reference a different "Deadly Sin". The killer may be mad but he is an highly intelligent madman, who could probably quote Dante while loading a Magnum 44. The well-known actor who plays the killer/religious fanatic who reveals himself toward the end is perfect casting.
Hollywood rarely produces films with such a combination of horror and high intelligence. The closest comparable film is "Silence of the Lambs" whose character Hannibal Lecter is strikingly similar to the fiend in this film, although their motivations are entirely different. Both of these characters, the killer of "Seven" and Hannibal Lecter, are homicidal sociopaths of uncommon literary knowledge, which communicate disturbing overtones of higher purpose. They are the type who would probably view the act of crucifixion as an artistic statement.
This is an incredible film both in its dreadfulness and its cerebral content, but definitely not for the feint of heart or the squeamish. As for myself, this is probably the limit in terms of the disturbing meter--worse than this would be out of bounds. Despite the gruesome subject matter, this film has enough compelling elements, from the literary references to the relationship between Pitt and Freeman, that it does work as a masterpiece of the serial killer genre. And the ending is one of the most compelling and original conclusions I have ever witnessed in this type of film, but don't expect the main characters to be celebrating with beers at the end. There are very subtle hints during the film which point to how the movie's ending will unfold, but like most movie-goers during my initial viewing, the ending erupts like a dragon flying straight out of Hell.