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

Director:

David Fincher
Popularity
252 ( 2)
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

According to David Fincher, the camerawork was influenced by C.O.P.S. (1988), "how the camera is in the backseat peering over people's shoulder". See more »

Goofs

When Somerset and Mills meet with 'Greasy FBI Man' in a pizzeria, there is a cup of Coke on the table; in different shots the label changes from 'Coke' to Coca-Cola' 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

The opening credits are done over broken, blurred images of John Doe removing the skin from his fingertips and sewing it into his journals. See more »

Alternate Versions

In the Platinum Series DVD released by New Line on 12/19/2000, Mills has a line just as Somerset runs up to him in the climactic scene. The line is supposed to be "What the f***'s he talking about?" Clearly audible on the Criterion laserdisc, this line is obscured on the new DVD because the director, while remastering the sound for the new release, thought that the character should be whispering the line to himself rather than yelling it, as it was on the Criterion laserdisc. Thus, it was altered. The song used for the opening credit sequence is a remix of a remix of "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails. It was credited as "Closer (Precursor) (Remix)" by Nine Inch Nails on the Criterion laserdisc, but the new DVD simply credits the song as Closer by Nine Inch Nails. The Criterion laserdisc release also moved a few seconds of Howard Shore's score for its last side break so as to keep the entire music cue intact. The cue plays as originally intended on the special edition DVD. See more »


Soundtracks

I Cover the Waterfront
Written by Johnny Green (as John W. Green) and Edward Heyman
Performed by Billie Holiday
Courtesy of Drive Entertainment
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User Reviews

Simply one of the darkest and best thrillers of the 1990's – but don't let anyone spoil it for you.....
29 March 2002 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

`Days from retirement' Detective Somerset is teamed with new-to-the-city Detective Mills to investigate a murder that quickly becomes a series. Somerset realises that the killer must be smart and is using classic literature to model his killings on the seven deadly sins, however Mills finds to hard to see him as anything other than a crazy man. With the killer close to completing his work, Mills and Somerset begin to close in on him. However nothing is as it seems in a dark depressing city full of moral degradation and apathy.

When David Fincher came onto the scene with his debut feature Alien3 the world only paused to scorn a film that didn't fit in with the Alien franchise. Yes it wasn't a great film – but I loved the sense of mood, the dark the tension in the shadows that Fincher created. Years later we have Se7en, Fight Club, The Game, and at people are getting Fincher!

Se7en was his major break through – where his dark visions also reaped box-office gold. The story doesn't sound like much – mismatched partners (one young, cocky and reckless – the other a few days from retirement) go after a serial killer who is carrying out a series of twisted murders…..it sounds like Lethal Weapon meets a straight to video thriller. But happily it rises above that by so much it's unbelievable….it certainly shows how a story put in good hands can work out. From the start we are entombed in mood – the city where it always rains, the uncaring people etc. The we begin to find murders – but Fincher doesn't show us the murders, he lets us see the aftermath in the shadows and lets us imagine the rest – Genius!

What you don't see is more gory than what you do. Meanwhile the tension is cranked up to fever pitch as the race to catch the killer is accelerated. When we meet the killer, the film just gets better…right up to an ending that is simply one of the most logical, emotional and gripping endings I've ever seen. I promise you'll leave the cinema shell shocked.

Freeman is excellent as Somerset – so good that it's a role he's tried to do again in `Kiss the girls' etc. But here he is the perfect foil for both Mills and the killer. Brad Pitt is also superb....he isn't allowed to trade on his looks here and does very well in a film that has little opportunity for him to pander to his female fans – he spends a lot of it looking beaten up. Paltrow is OK with what she has – but this isn't really a film that focuses on female roles. R. Lee Ermey is as good as ever and it's a sign of how good the cast is that actors of the stature of Charles Dutton and John C McGinley are basically in roles that barely count as cameos.

However the best performance is from Kevin Spacey in the years before he became an Oscar lovie and stopped doing bad guys or dark characters. He is only on screen for a small portion of the film but his dialogue is superb and he delivers it faultlessly. In the scene where he shares a car ride with Mills and Somerset you literally hang on his every word. However alongside Spacey Fincher stands triumphant with his dark vision given the perfect story and perfect actors.

At heart this is a cop thriller – but excellent performances, excellent mood and a moral lesson from an excellent Spacey make this quite simply the most jaw-droppingly excellent thriller of the 1990's.


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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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