In a big anonymous city, William Somerset (played by the eminent Morgan Freeman), a police detective heading down the home stretch toward retirement is partnered with a young, idealistic, but hot-tempered new detective, David Mills (played by Brad Pitt), who recently transferred from out in the boonies.
Apparently, the move from the sticks to the big, bad city was Mills’ idea, not his wife’s (the wife is played by the rail-thin and long-suffering Gwyneth Paltrow), because while he’s hot to trot about going out and getting the bad guys, she’d rather beat feet out of the hell hole they live in.
However, Somerset and Mills get wrapped up in finding a serial killer – one whose murders have an unusual theme. Each relates in some way to one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Thus, the movie’s title.
The film dutifully goes through each sin, with each one represented in some grotesque way at each murder scene.
On the whole, the movie’s exciting and suspenseful. But then …
The detectives find the man they believe is the killer (known as John Doe), but fail to catch him at home. At which point, after five murders (with two more to go to make seven), who should stroll right into the police station, covered with blood? Why, it’s John Doe! (Played with unctuous panache by Kevin Spacey.) And he just sort of calls to the detectives, “Hey guys! It’s me! Here I am!”
At which point, I just sort of went “Huh? Is that it? They don’t even catch the guy? He just frigging gives up!”
But then there’s the ending, which I won’t reveal. Just know this.
In the end, Doe meets his sin-murder quota, in what is possibly the most bizarrely contrived ending ever. And yet one that leaves you right on the edge of your seat up until the thoroughly dispiriting conclusion.
Though it gets high marks for its psychological suspense and well-paced plot, there’s something about the denouement that just kind of sits there, like a lump of undigested food.
So, much as I like this movie, I’m giving it one thumb up.
Hey … it’s highly watchable, despite the crappy end! 🙂