Se7en—the best psychological thriller of all time


Gavin Zaengle, Sports Editor

*Editor’s Note: While the review that follows is mature and suitable for teen readers, the film itself is Rated R and not recommended for all viewers.

A string of disturbing murders rattles the city of New York as particular individuals are each killed in specific fashion. Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman), takes on the case as his last investigation before retirement with the help of rookie David Mills (Brad Pitt). As the investigation rolls on, the detectives get a clearer picture of the consecutive crimes; however, the finale leaves the detectives stunned and viewers’ minds spinning while the end credits roll.

Se7en, written by Andrew Kevin Walker and directed by David Fincher, is a mystery and thriller masterpiece—and my personal favorite movie of all time. The 90’s classic is rated 82% on Rotten Tomatoes and was nominated for Best Editing at the Oscars. With a budget of 30 million dollars, Se7en surely reflected the effort, time and money the producers invested in the film. 

The bustling New York City represents the fast flow of life in the late 20th century, yet this case seems to slow time down. One by one, citizens who reflect each of the seven cardinal sins are executed by an unknown perpetrator, who only leaves the name of the sin they reflected behind. The seven sins—gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride, and lust— can be seen in multiple works of Christian literature, most notably in Dante’s Inferno and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Antagonist John Doe (Kevin Spacey) is insanely devoted to honoring God by enforcing each of these sins himself. (Fun fact: Kevin Spacey convinced the producers to remove his name from the opening credits and hide him from all previews in order to make his reveal the ultimate surprise to viewers.)

The movie begins as detectives Somerset and Mills are tasked with investigating the first crime, in which they find an overweight individual killed in a particular fashion, with the words “GLUTTONY” scraped into the wall behind the refrigerator. Over the next few days, four more killings, all marked with one of the cardinal sins, are each thoroughly investigated by the experienced Somerset and the loose-cannon Mills.

Somerset and Mills are assigned to the case together; however, their clashing personalities just don’t seem to mesh. Somerset disregards Mills and thinks of him as an unintelligent and inexperienced partner, not worthy of his attention. Mills looks to prove himself to Somerset and the rest of the NYPD, so he attempts to get ahead of Somerset by getting to the scenes faster and looking into them himself. One day while they are both researching in their offices, Mills’ wife Tracy, played by Gweneth Paltrow, invites detective Somerset to their apartment for dinner.

This night filled with stories, laughs and a bottle of wine is what brings the two detectives together, in which they spend the midnight hours after dinner brainstorming and researching on the couch. They narrow their search to an apartment downtown and end up finding the hideout of the killer. 

The final quarter of the movie left me speechless upon my initial watch, and each and every time I sit down with friends to share this treasure of a film with them, nostalgia rolls through my body in the form of goosebumps. 

A famous quote by the antagonist himself is a perfect way to describe this portion of the movie, “What I’ve done is going to be puzzled over and studied and followed… forever.” Every scene is necessary and effective to the plot, and the final scene is one that is infamously known as one of the most spectacular moments in film history. Many know it as the “what’s in the box” scene, and the cinematography, sound and acting make the moment thrilling and nerve-wracking.

I recommend Se7en to anyone who looks to experience perfection in the mystery and thriller genre, and I hope anyone who watches loves it as much as I do.

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