Director David Fincher has been making great murder mysteries for over a decade now, but one needs to look no further than the first murder mystery he made way back in 1995 to find greatness. It is a classic police procedural/serial killer film that follows Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as two city detectives on the hunt for a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as inspiration for his murders.
The characters in this movie are nothing special, except John Doe but I can’t tell you about him. The film shines for the execution of the story, and the grizzly crime scenes. There are two serial killer/ police procedurals that I believe inspired, and became the archetype for many offshoot films and tv shows we see today. Two of these that come to mind are Silence of the Lambs and Se7en . The two films have different but commonly used styles. Silence of the Lambs switches between following the actions of the law enforcement and following the life of the serial killer. Se7en follows the detectives the entire time, and all the viewer knows about the killer comes from them. The style used in “Lambs” works primarily to humanize, or dehumanize the killer and make him/her more into a character and less into a goal. The style in Se7en fits better as a police procedural because the film goes into deeper detail about the process of capturing the killer.
The film does a great job of showing the two detectives attempt to work out each crime scene and anticipate the killers next move. The viewer gets to see how the cops have to work around a formal procedure in order to get the information they need. The detectives aren’t that interesting but their work sure is. The murders are not shown to us (except the last one) but the crime scenes are fascinating to look at. Hearing Pitt and Freeman describe the scene, along with the glimpses the viewer gets of the bodies helps give a greater understanding of the alienating and depressing job these two detectives have, and you can understand why Freeman wants out of it.
The problem is that Pitt is some typical hot shot new detective and Freeman is the gruff old detective that’s a week from retirement. The two never transcend these archetypes so I don’t really care too much about them. They feel like acquaintances that I see around other movies. They are there to do their job, nothing more, nothing less. Luckily that’s all the actors really need to do here, because it’s the gloomy atmosphere, dark subject matter, great cinematography, and great sense of process that keep the film engaging. If you love cop dramas, then this film is mandatory. (Just be strong and maintain some sense of optimism while watching it, or you might want to kill yourself afterwards).
Favorite Scene: The final act of this film brings in one of my favorite actors as the serial killer. He comes in out of nowhere and wreaks havoc. He’s barely in the movie, but the moment he arrives, he steals the show (along with the lives of seven people).
Written by Tyler Ducheneaux
Images from Se7en