Starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman
First and foremost, you must know that I do love this movie. I love the set-up, the grey, rainy atmosphere, the hardened but wise old detective and the new, reckless one. I enjoyed watching the creative nature of the murders and the sneaky clues left by the killer.
The first time I watched this movie (and I have watched it many times), I was shocked and somewhat confused when, just past the middle of the movie, the killer gives himself up. How could this be? The wise pro didn’t figure it out yet and the quick acting, easily angered rookie didn’t either. Also, there were still two more deadly sins to complete. What was he up to?
Kevin Spacey plays a psycho well, and his cryptic comments and passive aggression riles up Pitt’s rookie as they drive to the site where the killer promises to show them more bodies. The ending chain of events is just as shocking and unexpected as the off-formula killer turning himself in. In case you haven’t seen it, I won’t reveal anymore. I was taught that when ending a novel, go for the unexpected BUT make it an ending that the reading will think about and say “of course, it couldn’t have ended any other way, why didn’t I see that coming.” Se7en accomplished that.
I was also taught to be real with the reader. Don’t expect them to buy something so outlandish that it could never happen in real life or if a fantasy, something that breaks the rules of your world. And therein lies my critique of Se7en. These murders are so elaborate, the clues hidden away so that it takes multiple trips to the scene and a thorough search before finding them. Some murders were planned out at least a year in advance and many required much surveillance, research and money. Yes, money—there is that whole “how does the serial killer have so much specialized equipment at his/her disposal?” question again. What do these movie/novel killers do for a living and if it is a full-time job, when do they have time to see to all their complex, meaningful crimes?
And the end. The end required an almost ESP level of forethought. Even the most meticulous killer could not have pulled that off. This guy had to understand the psychology of the detectives potentially even BEFORE he started killing. As I said, this guy’d been planning this for some time. This is my problem with a lot of movies and novels about killers. And can you imagine the level of self-control this guy had in order to do these murders in the way he did. Do psycho’s have that kind of control?
My other issue is with Gwyneth Paltrow’s character Tracy. Is any spouse that completely and unconditionally understanding? Does she ever get upset or angry? Why is she so good? I couldn’t find her realistic, and because she seemed so flawless, I couldn’t like her which resulted in a little less impact on me in the end. Same for Pitt’s detective. He never really showed a softer side, he was the macho cop know-it-all the entire time. His relationship with Freeman’s older, almost retired detective was so formulaic you wanted to smack Pitt upside the head and say “would you fucking listen to him for once in your damn life, punk? Haven’t you seen these movies, don’t you know your attitude is going to fuck everything up just as he is trying to retire without a bad taste in his mouth?”
But it is fiction, it’s meant to first entertain. It does. The writer wants you to be intrigued by the unique MO of the killer. We are. Did it do its job? Yes, it did. So who am I to complain about the unrealistic abilities of the a super genius murderer? Just someone assigned to critique a movie that I have always loved—because it entertained me and the murders were pretty cool.