Se7En: Platinum Edition

Seven (sometimes listed as Se7en) is a crime drama like few others, Seven combines script, direction and acting in an amazing fashion

All too rarely a film comes around that is intelligent, dark and grips you like a vise. Back in 1995 such a film was released, Seven ( sometimes listed as Se7en ). A crime drama like few others, Seven combines script, direction and acting in an amazing fashion.

Morgan Freeman plays Detective William Somerset. Somerset is about to retire from the force in about a week when he catches a bizarre homicide and a new partner, Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt). An obese man is found dead, apparently forced to literally eat until his stomach burst. They find one ominous clue, the word GLUTTONY written behind the refrigerator. Soon, a lawyer is found dead, having cut off about a pound of his own flesh with the word GREED. It is immediately apparent to Somerset that this is a work of a serial killer that is focusing on the seven deadly sins and that five more murders are due before he is through. Not wanting to retire with a case like this over his head, Somerset pushes himself completely into the investigation. He is a man of precise thoughts and action and finds himself at odds with his new partner’s more free handed approach.

Se7en is acting at its best. Morgan Freeman has never failed to give his all in any performance I have seen. The man is the consummate actor who uses his craft as a master painter uses a brush, creating something amazing to behold. Like his role in Kiss the Girls, Freeman seems born to play the meticulous detective. A man with an analytical mind, unswerving personal rituals and the ability to remain focused under any circumstances. Freeman commands the screen like few actors are capable of doing. Se7en is also one of Brad Pitt’s finest moments. As the young, brash detective he wears the role like a familiar suit of clothes. The best actors come across like they are not acting and Pitt achieves this with ease in Se7en. His performance provides sharp contrast to the performance of Freeman. The characters come across initially as extremely different but slowly the similarities are revealed. The rest of the cast is almost background due to the extreme emotional impact of the two main leads. Gwyneth Paltrow as Pitt’s wife is vital to the plot but is underplayed for effect. Another great actor, Kevin Spacey has almost a cameo appearance as the killer. Still, in every scene he appears in his presence is strongly felt and vital to the story. The scriptwriter Andrew Kevin Walker even has a brief appearance as a corpse, I guess a little inside joke as to the way many writers are considered on the set.

While we are on the writer, Walker has very good credentials in screenwriting. Among his credits are such films as Brainscan, Hideaway, Event Horizon, The Game, 8MM and Sleepy Hollow. Now here is a writer that knows suspense. David Fincher directed his crime drama with flair, suspense and a darkness that will follow you long after viewing Se7en. Director of such films as Alien-3, The Game and Fight Club (as well as videos for Madonna and Aerosmith), Fincher proves again that he can keep an audience on the edge of their seats and still provide a twist or two that will surprise even the most jaded movie collector. Fincher shows a flair for directing films with a dark and moody nature. One method he employs to keep things from getting too dark in the inclusion of little slices of life to give a momentary relief from the tension. In Se7en this is done masterfully by showing Mills at home with his dogs or Somerset preparing for sleep by setting a metronome. Now only does this help even out the pace it is expository material to help the audience better understand the characters. It these little touch of genius that place Fincher above his contemporaries. His framing of the scenes cries out for a widescreen presentation. When I first saw this movie it was on cable and cropped to 4:3. After seeing it in the true aspect I came to fully appreciate all the little details on the sides that Fincher places in the frame. Just as he does in The Game. Alien 3 and Fight Club, Fincher is best when he is contrasting opposites. The little scenes where we see Somerset awaken at the start of the film and Mills later on shows just how different the two men are.

The Se7en disc itself is reference quality. Considering the dark nature not only of the plot but also the set design the anamorphic 2.35:1 is excellent as it moves through various light levels without flaw or defect. The picture is crisp and full of the minutest details. The audio will blow you away. The remastered 5.1 soundtrack gives a full workout to all of your speakers. Your living room will become the crime scene as the sounds enfold you. The sub woofer is never too obvious, there as needed without blasting you out of the room. You can chose between DTS or Dolby 5.1, pick the DTS if possible, it provides a far more encompassing sound field. There are also plenty of commentary tracks to keep you busy for a long time. The packaging is great, emulating one of the composite notebooks used by the killer. The second disc is jammed full of extras including an explanation of the cryptic opening sequence. Not getting Se7en is the 8th deadly sin.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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