In the following article, I will spoil the ending / twist of the two (2) movies used for the Unlikely Double Feature contest to explain my choices. I would recommend watching the movies first but if you want to know about them through this article, please, be my guest. Thank you and enjoy the reading!
We, the audience, go to the movie theater mainly to be entertained and lose ourselves in those wonderful crafted worlds. But there are times where movies become something more and we immerse ourselves to the point that we try to analyze every single frame or try to find the meaning to the message the director has intended to convey to explain his or her vision. We become the biggest of fans or the harshest of critics but at the end of the day we still want to be surprised, amazed or just simply entertained. Most of the time, movies are one-note set pieces that appeal to your senses without being invasive and it doesn't matter if you cry, laugh, get excited or all of the above; you are still in control of those emotions.
What happens, then, when a movie dares to assault your senses? or defies the way you feel throughout the journey? Even when you figure out what will be the conclusion but you are still hoping that wouldn't be the outcome or even worse, what if there's no conclusion at all?.
My dad once told me that he watches movies to have a good time and not to suffer. He enjoys the journey like most of us but at the end, he wants to see the main character prevail (good guys), transcend (Evenezer Scrooge) or reformed (Darth Vader). At the end of the day, he wants that happy ending or a satisfying conclusion.
Well, this unlikely double feature will have none of the above. Our heroes will be put through the gauntlet, dragged to hell and back, they will go against improbable odds and at the end, they will come out victorious!
Well, let's see. Just remember, no refunds.
Se7en is a crime / thriller film that gives you the standard odd couple in Morgan Freeman as the seasoned, about-to-retire, down to earth detective Somerset and Brad Pitt as the hot headed, prove-everyone-wrong, rising star detective Mills.
The movie is set in a nameless city which serves as another character in the story. The cast is minimal and everything looks the same no matter where our characters go. Rain is constant and everything is dark and gloomy giving you that sensation of claustrophobia and despair. This movie is intimate and tries to inject some life with Pitt's character to see if this lifeless city is capable of feeling anything at all. Freeman's character is already tired and consumed by this world and wants to get of out there as soon as possible.
Mills (Pitt) is transferred to the precinct and is about to take Somerset's (Freeman) position as the lead detective but they have to work together during the transition. Their first case together is the murder of an obese man who was tied to a chair and forced to eat food, and eventually, his own vomit, until his stomach exploded.
For Mills, this is the work of a sick bastard but Somerset is not that convinced.
Next, they investigate the fatal bloodletting of a rich attorney, from whom a pound of flesh has been extracted and the word "Greed" is written on the floor with the attorney's blood. Somerset senses that there's a pattern forming. Afterwards, the autopsy results of the obese man reveal pieces of wood found in his stomach which match to the kitchen floor of the obese man's residence. Somerset returns to the crime scene and notices that there are scratches on the floor matching the pieces of wood. He reveals the word "Gluttony" behind the fridge and Somerset's suspicions become clear. This is the work of a serial killer and he or she just got started.
Somerset realizing what's about to happen, tries to discourage Mills to take this case as his first job and he doesn't want to have this case as his last.
We, the audience, are given the whole plot of the movie in the first act. There's a serial killer using the 'Seven Deadly Sins' as the motives of the murders. And even then, we want to see how this will unfold. What will happen when the seventh and final sin comes to fruition. I mean, the movie is called 'Se7en', right? I want to see all of them! Be careful what you wish for, then.
The antagonist is revealed in the final act as a guy named John Doe (Kevin Spacey) and at this point we are still two (2) deadly sins short of the seven (7), what gives?!.
John Doe gives himself up and tells the police that he will provide the location of the final two (2) bodies but only to detectives Somerset and Mills.
Somerset and Mills arrive to a remote location with John Doe in shackles and escorted by a police helicopter. What could go wrong? At exactly 7:00 PM, a delivery van arrives to the location and hands Detective Somerset a package addressed to detective Mills. Somerset looks in to the box and what he sees, shocks him to the core. We the audience have no clue of what's inside but Somerset makes it clear that John Doe has the upper hand.
Turns out that one (1) of the final sins is Envy and John Doe is guilty of this. He envies detective Mills married and simple life and tried to have a taste of that life by visiting his wife while Mills wasn't home but it didn't worked out as he hoped and took detective Mills' wife's head (that's what's in the box) instead.
Mills starts having a meltdown and Somerset tries his best to help him keep his composure by saying that if he kills John Doe, he will win. John Doe giving us one (1) final surprise, tells Mills that his wife pleaded for her life and the life of her unborn child.
Mills can't take it anymore and kills John Doe becoming Wrath in the process completing John Doe's work.
This movie leaves a bitter taste in our mouth and a sense of emptiness and that maybe at the end there's something that could be salvageable but the only thing we see is our characters being in a worse place than where they started. Somerset bids goodbye by saying: "I'll be around" and then leave us with a final message: "Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part".
Well, that was a downer.
But moving on to our second feature.
Smokin' Aces (2006)
'Smokin' Aces' is a movie that looks like a video game. It's non stop action from the beginning and has an assorted collection of characters. It's colorful, moves really fast (scene and dialogue) and it's so over the top.
Agents Richard Messner (Ryan Reynolds) and Donald Carruthers (Ray Liotta) learn that ailing Las Vegas mob boss Primo Sparazza (Joseph Ruskin) has issued a bounty worth $1 million on Las Vegas magician and wannabe gangster Buddy "Aces" Israel (Jeremy Piven) who is hiding out in a Lake Tahoe hotel penthouse with his entourage. His agent and lawyer, Morris Mecklen (Curtis Armstrong), discusses a potential immunity deal with FBI Deputy Director Stanley Locke (Andy Garcia); a mysterious assassin known only as The Swede has sworn that he will bring Israel's heart to Sparazza. A number of assassins also seek the reward.
Got all of that? Good. Afterwards, mayhem ensues.
We are then introduced to all our assassins which are portrayed by a plethora of actors and actresses: Chris Pine, Alicia Keys, Taraji P. Henson, Ben Affleck, Nestor Carbonell, Tommy Flanagan, Kevin Durand among others.
And then more actors show up as supporting cast: Joel Edgerton, Matthew Fox, Common, Jason Bateman.
We are in for a ride!
Once all the players are in place at the hotel where Buddy Israel is being kept. We have a couple of minutes of tension before the massacre begins. At this point, we know bloodshed is inevitable but our two (2) heroes, detectives Messner (Reynolds) and Carruthers (Liotta), will try their best to get to Israel before they all do.
What we get is scene after scene of ridiculous action, one liners and... well, take a look for yourselves:
Need to go and get some air? I'll wait.
Messner (Reynolds) arrives at the hospital where Buddy has been taken by one of the assassins and learns the truth about the day's events from Locke (Garcia) at gunpoint. It transpires that the mysterious Swede is actually a prominent heart surgeon from the University of Stockholm and that Soot (one of the assassins) was hired by Sparazza to get Israel's heart so it could be transplanted into the body of Sparazza. Sparazza is further revealed to be Freeman Heller (Mike Falkow), an FBI agent who went undercover and was thought to have been killed by the mob. The FBI had attempted to kill Heller, after they thought his assignment had blurred the lines between being a mobster or an FBI agent. But Heller miraculously survived and ended up taking on the role as Sparazza full-time after his mind snapped. The mobster has agreed to expose the mob's operations in exchange for Israel's heart as he is in fact Sparazza's son, and thus, the most compatible donor.
Messner, furious over the unnecessary deaths, especially Carruthers', protests and is ordered by Locke to either resign on the spot or return to Washington, D.C., and forget about the case. Realizing that the FBI will never admit what they did, he walks into the emergency room, locks the door and pulls the plug on both men. He then lays his gun and badge on the floor while Locke and his men desperately try to break in.
These two (2) movies are far from being the same but they both share a similar theme: How far can you push a good person before you break him or her completely?
How would you react if someone you love is taken away from you and you have the responsible in front of you? What would you have left when there's nothing left to lose? What would you do if you are betrayed by those you trusted all your life?
At the end, it doesn't matter what you do, you will change in to a different person for better or worse. Only time will tell if you made the right decision.
Well, there you have it. Thank you very much for your time and I hope you enjoyed the read.