Matthew Dunseath’s review published on Letterboxd:
Right...how to go about reviewing this without blabbering on about how perfect it is and how it's the first movie that sparked my interest in film...to be honest I don't think I can...just gonna have to read my Fincher fangasm then!
Cinema goers in 1995 who probably chose to see this movie because they saw a vague trailer, an interesting poster or maybe even were attracted by the quirkily written title had no idea what they in store for...no idea of the intensity of the philosophy of a madman that would unfold on screen...no idea that the climatic finale would go down in cinematic history...and most definitely nobody knew that they were going to watch the master of thriller take his first giant steps into the hall of directing legends!
Opening in an unnamed city, aging detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman) a professional by the book, yet somewhat defeated police officer, starts what should be his final week of employment, retiring to escape the grisly cases that he has worked on. His final task is to show his replacement, keen to please 'hotshot' detective Mills (Brad Pitt) the ropes and make sure he's a suitable replacement. However when Somerset and Mills arrive at an odd crime scene comprising of an obese man being drowned in spaghetti sauce, the building blocks begin to emerge of a deadly serial killer, preaching his message of death to the people who represent the seven deadly sins...this one being GLUTTONY. Taking heavy references from many pieces of classic literature including "Paradise Lost" this mysterious killer utilises extremely creative ways to spread his message through death, leaving a very visible breadcrumb trail for Somerset and Mills to follow.
Dark in tone, it is only suitable that Fincher and cinematographer, Darius Khondji adopted a tense almost majestic style of filming that is purposely rough around the edges to leave the grit intact. With the usual high quality performance from Freeman, Pitt surprisingly puts in as much effort into his role to stand strong next to such a great cast. The real acting credit goes to the A lister (no spoilers here) who played the villainous John Doe, who managed to terrify audiences everywhere into cementing him as one of the greatest movie serial killers, despite never killing his victims on screen.
If I were to have one criticism...and I do...(but it's so small I don't even feel right mentioning it)...is that the closing credits felt so out of place in comparison to the rest of the movie...as if it had just been stuck in there for good measure...but seriously this film is so flawless my only complaint was that I didn't like the bloody credits.
Better think twice before sinning...