The chemistry between Pitt and Freeman is superb, even though Freeman overshadows his costar and gives perhaps the best performance of his career as the retiring detective. The veteran is a master of portraying likable, if not lovable, characters with an edge, and Somerset is no different. Viewing the world in an incisive, yet somewhat skewed perspective, he balances his costar’s youthful glow with his own disillusioned hardness, yet with a slight glimmer of hope still left behind his eyes.
Se7en plays as a neo-noir of sorts, with Fincher doing a fantastic job making New York City look seedy and disgusting in a way that was so ubiquitous in the decade prior, yet hardly tapped into like this in the alt-’90s. The director keeps the themes kinetic and has so many things to say, and is successful at connecting all of them, at least tangentially, to one another, such as in the way he shows us the poor and unappealing living conditions of detectives compared to how much tireless and thankless work they do. It’s only one of the more subtle examples living underneath the story, but even this can find a way to connect to our twisted villain’s extremely misguided objective.