Roger Ebert just added Se7en to his list of Great Movies.
While I liked the movie and own it on DVD, I would hesitate to call it “great”. Spoiler warning!
The movie is wonderful atmospheric, has some great acting and, for the first 75%, is tense and interesting. It’s certainly more intelligent than your typical crime movie.
The problem, for me, has always been the final act. For my money, it is not the logical conclusion of the story but a derailment. I know the shocking endings “feels right” to a lot of people but it thinks wrong to me. The whole point of John Doe’s killing was to punish people according to the sin they had committed. But Tracy had committed no sin, certainly not one worthy of beheading. Her killing is simply unearned viciousness.
What would have made more sense in the context of the film was for Doe to pretend he had killed her. The scene plays out as scripted, with Doe being punished for his envy and Mills being punished for his wrath. Even better, the head could have been that of the model killed earlier for the sin of pride. With the blood and gore, it could easily have been mistaken for Tracy’s. This adds another layer of planning to Doe and another level of vengeance.
No one ever agrees with me on that, of course. I may be the only person who has ever seen the film who didn’t like the ending. But … it’s my blog.
Incidentally, Se7en did give rise to one of my movie cliches:
Black Hat Database: The government collects and stores amazing amounts of obscure information about its citizens, which is part of a large, user-friendly, perfectly efficient database. This database never gives incorrect information or comes up empty, unless the bad guys have “wiped” the relevant records. Enemy of the State is a perfect example. Se7en is probably the worst example as the detectives find a killer through — of all things — a secret federal database that catalogues the checkout of library books.