Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his motives.

Director:

David Fincher
Popularity
250 ( 5)
Top Rated Movies #20 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 29 wins & 41 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Morgan Freeman ... Somerset
Andrew Kevin Walker ... Dead Man at 1st Crime Scene (as Andy Walker)
Daniel Zacapa ... Detective Taylor at First Murder
Brad Pitt ... Mills
Gwyneth Paltrow ... Tracy
John Cassini ... Officer Davis
Bob Mack Bob Mack ... Gluttony Victim
Peter Crombie Peter Crombie ... Dr. O'Neill
Reg E. Cathey ... Dr. Santiago
R. Lee Ermey ... Police Captain
George Christy ... Workman at Door of Somerset's Office
Endre Hules ... Cab Driver
Hawthorne James ... George the Night Guard at the Library
William Davidson William Davidson ... First Guard at the Library (as Roscoe Davidson)
Bob Collins Bob Collins ... Second Guard at the Library
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Storyline

A film about two homicide detectives' (Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt) desperate hunt for a serial killer who justifies his crimes as absolution for the world's ignorance of the Seven Deadly Sins. The movie takes us from the tortured remains of one victim to the next as the sociopathic "John Doe" (Kevin Spacey) sermonizes to Detectives Somerset and Mills -- one sin at a time. The sin of Gluttony comes first and the murderer's terrible capacity is graphically demonstrated in the dark and subdued tones characteristic of film noir. The seasoned and cultured but jaded Somerset researches the Seven Deadly Sins in an effort to understand the killer's modus operandi while the bright but green and impulsive Detective Mills (Pitt) scoffs at his efforts to get inside the mind of a killer... Written by Mark Fleetwood <mfleetwo@mail.coin.missouri.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Earnest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I believe the second part. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for grisly afterviews of horrific and bizarre killings, and for strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Footage of and from the helicopter in the end scene wasn't initially shot. The production ran out of time, and New Line told David Fincher they would give him extra time and money if they felt it was necessary from the footage he had shot. Naturally, they did, but the months between shooting ground footage and shooting footage from the helicopter had turned the locale from a lush green to a desert. Much of the footage shot on the ground was color corrected to make the location appear more desert-like. See more »

Goofs

Mills gets out of a bed with only a quilted mattress cover. He puts on his shirt and tie and walks back to the bed which now has a sheet on it. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Detective Taylor: Neighbors heard them screaming at each other, like for two hours, and it was nothing new. Then they heard the gun go off, both barrels. Crime of passion.
William Somerset: Yeah, just look at all the passion on that wall.
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Crazy Credits

Credits roll down instead of up, contrary to common movie procedure. See more »

Alternate Versions

The US television print is heavily edited for language and violence. Also, there is an alternate shot when John Doe takes the gun away from Mills's head. In the original film, we see a shot of Mills's head with the gun to it, and John Doe's arm. Then the gun is quickly whisked away. In the television edit, we're still looking up the barrel of the gun as it is slowly taken away. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Comic Book Men: Junk (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Trouble Man
Performed by Marvin Gaye
Written by Marvin Gaye
Courtesy of Motown Records, A Division of PolyGram
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User Reviews

Somerset's World
13 August 1999 | by jpevotoSee all my reviews

Seldom does a film elucidate the culpability of our culture,of our society, in the mayhem and madness we often find in everyday life. According to Se7en, our culture is drifting through darkness. The mouthpiece for this thematic undercurrent is Somerset, a literate man who also happens to be a detective, a man who can read a clue ("This isn't going to be a happy ending") or Dante's Inferno with equal aplomb. He even provides the film's final thematic statement with a quote from Hemingway. His quirkiness, perhaps the outgrowth of a brilliant mind, is no worse than that of any prophet or seer of old, those harbingers of Biblical insight whom others always find kooky and offbeat. He is not well loved for his cynical, pessimistic outlook (such that his consuming motivation is to retire and get out of town). However, by the end it becomes clear that it is Somerset who sees our dark world with the prophet's particular clarity. (It is left to his partner Mills to find this out the hard way).

Working on us to reinforce this world as Somerset sees it is the film's astounding mise-en-scene, a disturbing film-noir setting developed by director David Fincher and cinematographer Darius Khondji. Flashlights barely illuminate the slimy walls of the roach-infested tenement of one victim and the dark bedroom of another. Rain pours down in buckets. Bird's-eye-view shots of downtown (the city is never named- a generic, everyman's kind of place) show dingy, sooty rooftops and grimy streets. Only the film's closing scene is in bright sunlight, which by then only serves as ironic counterpoint to what we see happening.

This is Somerset's vision; both inhabited and described by him. He finds a surprising fellow traveler in, not his partner, but the elusive killer John Doe. Doe shares the vision and provides an unsettling echo to the rumblings and teachings of Somerset. If one looks at life through the Somerset lens, one must admit that John Doe has a valid point. He and Somerset have arrived at the same conclusion, the difference between them being how they have responded. (Somerset longs to escape to some otherworldly realm in the country. Doe has taken action.)

Though gripping and fast moving, this is not an action film. It holds our interest through the workings of horror and mystery: a stark, film-noir detective piece. Except for one tense pursuit through halls and alleys in pouring rain, as well as the bit of ending action, there is surprisingly little violence. We see each murder, save two, after the fact, as a crime scene. This only makes the final act that much more suspenseful.

This is a very tight film. Elements within: dialogue, actions, lighting, setting, all of these tend to reinforce one another to paint a solid picture. It is a perverse logic that makes the final and seventh sin complete perfectly the circle of events begun with the first.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

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Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 September 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Seven Deadly Sins See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$33,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,949,807, 24 September 1995

Gross USA:

$100,125,643

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$327,333,559
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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