Would somebody turn on the lights already? Geez...in the nameless city that is the setting of Seven, it seems you can only get a 10-watt bulb, and that's when the power works at all. I liked the film, but with the constant thunderclouds, rain, and shadows, it's terribly difficult to tell what's going on.
The title refers to the Seven Deadly Sins--and a serial killer who is planning to knock off one "evil person" for each vice. The first to go is "gluttony," an obese man whom the killer force-feeds until he pops. And trust me, after that, it only gets worse.
On the case is veteran detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and new-to-town Mills (Brad Pitt). After 30 minutes of wry chit-chat, the pair finally get down to business, as two more victims are found. After that, it's a perfectly choreographed game of cat and mouse, culminating in a horrific finale that will have you on the edge of your seat. I won't reveal the identity of the killer, but I will say he's very well cast.
The story (written by schlock horror veteran Andrew Kevin Walker) is excellent. Some unfortunate problems get in the way, especially the constant lack of light and the use of quick-image shock photography, which make things all the harder to follow. But I suppose with Pitt sleepwalking through the opening of the film, at least that gives you something to watch instead of his droll acting. I guess when he breaks his hand (both the character and Pitt himself) during the movie's dynamic foot chase, the adrenaline finally starts to flow, and Pitt appears much more alive.
Also, while the "suspense" is great, watch out for the touchy-feely family scenes with Mrs. Mills (Gwyneth Paltrow) and the occasional soliloquies the characters get into about the nightmares of city life and the evils of the world. None of this is very well done, but it is rather important to the film, and thankfully, there's always another gruesome murder around the corner to distract us.
Despite its faults, Sevenremains a worthwhile and very watchable film, but don't look for a lot of deep social commentary. Lean back, peer into the darkness, oh, and hold on to your popcorn and your date exceptionally tight when they get to "sloth."
UPDATE: Of special note is the new Platinum Series DVD, a two-disc set with more extras and goodies than I can count. Four audio commentary tracks, two alternate/tweaked endings, deleted and extended scenes that clarify a number of points in the film, and much, much more. The transfer is brilliant in its moody darkness, and the audio cut is crystal, one of the best I've heard on DVD. Highly recommended for even minor fans of the movie.
[Editor's note: Please don't call it Se7en.]
Murder: it's the Pitt's.