|Morgan Freeman, left, and Brad Pitt are shown in a scene from "Seven."|
"Long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to light."
In "Seven" (1995), serial killer John Doe (Kevin Spacey), who chooses his victims based on the Seven Deadly Sins, leaves behind the quote from John Milton's "Paradise Lost" at a crime scene. Director David Fincher and screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker spend the entirety of the film showing us just how long and hard that way is, carrying out an unrelenting examination of the evil that may or may not be festering inside every one of us.
Make no mistake: "Seven" is a bleak, unsettling picture, its setting a purposely unnamed metropolis where the only variation in the weather is the strength of the endless downpour; its antagonist left to plot and carry out his grisly work off-screen for the first 90 minutes (to maintain his anonymity, Spacey's name isn't in the opening titles); its protagonists doing little more than recording and cataloging the horrific scenes he leaves behind.
Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) is at the end of the line. He's seen too much of this urban nightmare, and in exactly one week, he'll be retired, somewhere "far away from here." Enter his replacement: young Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt), recently relocated with his wife, Tracy (Gwyneth Paltrow), from "upstate." While Somerset is weary and cynical, Mills is eager and optimistic that doing his job will make a real difference.
The seven days chronicled change both men in profound ways.