Seven director David Fincher is one of the all-time best, and the acting by Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey and Gwyneth Paltrow is excellent. Seven is a totally engrossing movie about a serial killer (John Doe) who punishes practitioners of the seven deadly sins.
The atmosphere and tension-building are mostly unassailable, but the film might have benefitted from being a little less gross. We like being scared, and shocked, but some of John Doe’s methods — notably for the sin of lust — feel a little calculatedly shocking, and broke our trance. The movie didn’t keep us as rapt as Silence of the Lambs, for example, which deals with similarly rough stuff but always feels intensely grounded. It shocks us, but underplays the shocks.
So we respect Seven — especially its willingness to be bleak — but found it a little too manipulative.