Apathy isn’t a deadly sin, but sometimes it feels like it should be. Some see it as a coping mechanism, a way to get through the day in a world that has just become too damned shitty. Others see it as a defence for the weak – that the unfeeling nature that comes with it is a sign that one is losing touch with their humanity. They might both be right, but what is certain, is that there is only one thing that can break through apathy – and that is an act that is completely, and unexpectedly impossible to ignore.

Such is the story of SE7EN, one of my all time favorite movies and the next film up in the 1001 Movies Club. .

SE7EN, the story of a serial killer slaying innocent victims based on the seven deadly sins. Trying to catch this twisted person are Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt) and Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman). It’s my belief that viewers of SE7EN gravitate towards one of these two men who are very different sides of the same coin.

Mills is a believer in humanity. He’s a pitbull in a Brooks Brothers suit, a pitbull who hangs up his ties still knotted.He hears the whispers of his inadequacies, but works to protect decent people undeterred. He makes inappropriate comments at inappropriate times, but it seems like it’s the only way he can cope with what he’s seeing as he tries to make sense of the madness he’s witnessing.

Somerset doesn’t understand humanity anymore. He has reached over the gunnels of the boat time after time to save mankind from drowning itself…and he’s finally grown tired of reaching. While he doesn’t believe society has much hope, he sees possibilities in Mills. Something about Mills’ hopefulness reminds him of the man he used to be, and thus he does everything he can to protect Mills from becoming as jaded and calloused as he is. He might not believe in civilization, but he believes in Mills.

(Take this moment to ask yourself which character you’d be)

Strangely, for a film this grim, director david Fincher has included quite a few funny moments – most of them centering around Brad Pitt’s character of David Mills. It’s amusing for instance, to hear Freeman’s Detective Somerset ask for a glass of wine, and have Mills bring him back a highball glass full of merlot.

I also tend to get a slight grin when the two detectives are reading off the list of books John Doe has checked out from the public library, and Mills pronounces The Marquis de Sade and The Marquis de “Sha-day”…y’know, as in Sade. I have to believe that its moments like this that keep this film from being one of those truly dreary bits of cinema I can’t bring myself to watch more than once.

I’m thankful that I can endure repeated viewings, because I believe few major films from the 90’s have aged as well as SE7EN has. It’s a carefully constructed film, that while it employs a twist or two, does not completely rely on those twists to succeed. Instead, each twist feels as though the knife has been pushed in a little deeper. The way John Doe is kept a mystery to us until just the right moment only increases the mystery and viciousness surrounding him. The film, like it’s unforgettable villain, is unassuming, deliberate and methodical – making the bursts of violence that much more unsettling.

The events of SE7EN do indeed feel like a slow descent into hell. Perhaps the hardest things about this journey is where it leaves us. The case builds to it’s painful conclusion…and then ends after a quick nod. The film kicks us as hard as it can square in the gut. Then as we’re left on our hands and knees puking in the gutter, the film basically walks away and waves goodbye, leaving us to try and collect ourselves as best we can.

But Ryan, Is It List-Worthy?… You’d better believe it. A story like this could have easily leaned back on its gimmick and been content to play out as another ordinary cop drama looking for its place in pop culture. However, by taking the story down the darkest of allies, and making us question our deepest morals, SE7EN becomes something much more lasting.