The moody photography is by Darius Khondji; the nauseatingly vivid special effects are by makeup artist Rob Bottin, best known for more fantasy-oriented work in films like The Howling (1981).
Director David Fincher's dark, stylish thriller ranks as one of the decade's most influential box-office successes.
First, an obese man is forced to eat until his stomach ruptures to represent gluttony, then a wealthy defense lawyer is made to cut off a pound of his own flesh as penance for greed.
Somerset initially refuses to take the case, realizing that there will be five more murders, ghastly sermons about lust, sloth, pride, wrath, and envy presented by a madman to a sinful world. Somerset is correct, and something within him cannot let the case go, forcing the weary detective to team with Mills and see the case to its almost unspeakably horrible conclusion.
Two New York City detectives (Pitt, Freeman) find themselves on the trail of a vicious serial killer that chooses his victims according to the seven deadly sins.
An intensely claustrophobic, gut-wrenching thriller about two policemen's desperate efforts to stop an ingenious serial killer whose work is inspired by the seven deadly sins, this weirdly off-kilter suspenser goes well beyond the usual police procedural or killer-on-a-rampage yarn due to a fine script, striking craftsmanship and a masterful performance by Morgan Freeman.
David Fincher's second feature, after Alien³, cuts against most expectations for this sort of genre piece: it's not a buddy picture; the murders themselves are not actually depicted; and the usual gritty big-city realism has been replaced by a highly stylized, borderline-arty visual conception that greatly cranks up the psychological and physical intensity of the drama, by first-time screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker.
Set in a hellish vision of a New York-like city, where it is always raining and the air crackles with impending death, the film concerns Det. William Somerset (Morgan Freeman), a homicide specialist just one week from a well-deserved retirement. Every minute of his 32 years on the job is evident in Somerset's worn, exhausted face, and his soul aches with the pain that can only come from having seen and felt far too much.
Freeman's is a supremely nuanced, moving performance as the seasoned, bruised and solitary Somerset. This is screen acting at its best. Pitt turns in a determined, energetic, creditable job as the eager young detective. Gwyneth Paltrow gives as much human dimension as possible to her few scenes as Pitt's sensitive, uncertain wife.