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Talk about an intense movie!
It starts out showing us an average day of an older, salty homicide detective played by Morgan Freeman. After a few scenes allowing us to see what gruesome sights he views on a daily basis, we are then treated to one of the best opening sequences I've ever seen. The credits roll as the movie reel cuts, plays backward, gets spliced again, burns, and everything else imaginable as it shows us closeups of the serial killer preparing to do his work, all to a remix of Nine Inch Nails "Closer." Very, very effective.
The movie is very dark, both in spirit and in lighting. Every scene outside is shown raining (except for the ending) and the colors througout the movie are always dark and drab, thus setting the tone. After the credits roll we see Morgan Freeman meeting his new partner, Brad Pitt, as they are assigned to investigate the homicide of a very, very obese man. Evidently someone forced him to eat spaghetti until he burst.
We see the detectives try to work together despite their differences, and before you know it we find more and more victims of strange and cruel demises...evidently, someone is acting out the Catholic Church's "Seven Deadly Sins." Each victim is forced to suffer whatever sin they chose in life. The fat man represented gluttony, while soon we meet a lawyer killed by greed, a hooker killed by lust, a model by pride, a drug user by sloth, etc. We don't see any on-screen violence, but the director effectively gives us the chills by allowing us to see the aftermath of what we can only imagine to be quite horrific.
As each victim is found, the serial killer leaves more clues, evidently daring our two detectives to find him. Morgan Freeman gets the idea of using the library system to see who has been reading up on the seven deadly sins and finds a list of potential suspects, the first aptly named John Doe. When arriving at John Doe's apartment, a shoot-out erupts and the detectives realize they have the right guy. Only Doe has escaped and we never get to see his face. Even worse, for some reason the apartment contains no fingerprints.
As the detectives unravel the mystery behind the religous killings, the killings get to number five out of seven. Interestingly, though, we soon meet John Doe as he appears at the police station ready to turn himself in. John Doe turns out to be Kevin Spacey, the same guy who played Keyser Soze in "Usual Suspects." He seems quite unassuming for a killer, except for his bloody fingers, of which he keeps slicing them so he has no legible finger tips. There is also someone else's blood on his fingers as well...
So what about the last two victims? We have yet to see the victims of wrath and envy. Apparently, the only way we will find out is if the detectives drive John Doe out to a deserted field at a specific time to wait for instructions. They do, and we then see the only scene in the movie that is bright and sunny, a direct contrast by the director, hoping to contrast the feelings movie concerning the optimistic mood.
Suddenly, we see a FedEx van pull up with a guy carrying a small box. Evidently, he was scheduled earlier in the day to deliver it out to this feild at this specific time. We never see what's in the box (also an effective trick by the director) but as Morgan Freeman opens it, Kevin Spacy tells Brad Pitt, who has a gun drawn on Spacey, the contents of the box....the pretty head of Pitt's wife, played by Gwyneth Paltrow.
What we then find out is that earlier in the day, Spacey visited Pitt's wife (of which we see a few scenes earlier of her). After killing her, he ships her head to this location, orchestrates the two detectives to have him out there with them. Spacey then explains that since he himself envied the normal life of Pitt, it seemed fair that Spacy himself becomes the victim of envy. He then asks a disheartened and grieving Pitt to let the sin of anger destroy his own life, thus becoming the last of the victims, wrath. Pitt agrees, acknowleding his sin of wrath, and shoots Spacey, thus ending the cycle. Spacey himself has become the victim of envy, and as Pitt is led away in a police car we realize that, as planned, he has become the victim of wrath....
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