Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride. The seven deadly sins in order of severity. Most of us have committed them, of course. If not in that particular order. And with a greater or a lesser degree of malice aforethought. But then that's what rationalizations are for. To explain it away.
Or how about these: Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, Kindness, and Humility. The seven cardinal virtues. Aside from the first, no doubt, we've all been down these roads too.
Another religious nut doing God's will. Just considerably more inventive this time. Oh, and also "independently wealthy".
The thing about Detective Somerset is this: he has earned his cynicism. It's not just a jaded, nihilistic "philosophy of life" rooted in the intellectual equivalent of ennui or existential angst. He has seen the worst life can dish out. But how far is that from all the other things life can be?
An interesting coincidence is that Se7en portrays religion in a pejorative light, and in private life, Brad Pitt openly admits his disdain for religion of any kind.
The ending narration of Somerset quoting Ernest Hemingway was an added compromise that neither David Fincher or Morgan Freeman particularly cared for. The decision came from New Line after poor test screenings regarding the dark ending.
Directed by David Fincher
Somerset: Did the kid see it?
Somerset: The kid.
Taylor: What the fuck sort of question is that? You know, we're all going to be really glad when we get rid of you, Somerset. It's always these questions with you. "Did the kid see it?" Who gives a fuck? He's dead, his wife killed him. Anything else has nothing to do with us.
Somerset: I meant to ask you something before, when we spoke on the phone: Why here?
Mills: I don't follow.
Somerset: Why all the effort to get transferred? It's the first question that popped into my head.
Mills: I guess the same reasons as you. The same reasons you had before you decided to quit, yeah?
Somerset: Y... You just met me.
Mills: Maybe I'm not understanding the question.
Somerset: Very simple. You actually fought to get re-assigned here. I've just never seen it done that way before.
Police Officer: Nothing's been touched. Everything's like I found it.
Somerset: What time was death established?
Police Officer: Like I said, I didn't touch anything... but he's had his face in a plate of spaghetti for about forty five minutes now.
Mills: Wait a minute, no one bothers with vital signs?
Police Officer: Did I stutter? This guy ain't breathing unless he's breathing spaghetti sauce.
Mills: So that's how it's done around here.
Police Officer: I beg your pardon, Detective, but this guy's been sitting in pile in his own piss and shit, if he wasn't dead, he would have stood up by now.
Taxi driver: Where you headed?
Somerset: Far away from here.
Mills: Fuckin' Dante... poetry-writing faggot! Piece of shit, motherfucker!
Somerset: In any major city, minding your own business is a science. First thing they teach women in rape prevention is that you should never cry "help." Always scream "fire," because people don't answer to "help". You holler "fire" they come running.
Mills: He's fuckin' with us!
[Mills bends over a desk]
Mills: See this? This is us.
Mills: Honestly, have you ever seen anything like this?
SWAT Team cop [preparing to break down a door]: SWAT goes before dicks.
Somerset: They love this.
Mills: Has he tried to speak or communicate in any way?
Dr. Beardsley: Even if his brain were not mush, which it is, he chewed off his own tongue long ago.
Somerset: Uh...Doc, is there absolutely no chance that he might survive?
Dr. Beardsley: Detective, he'd die of shock right now if you were to shine a flashlight in his eyes. He's experienced about as much pain and suffering as anyone I've encountered, give or take...and he still has hell to look forward to.
Mills: He's a nut bag. Just because the guy has a library card doesn't make him Yoda.
Somerset [with the lightbulb going on over his head]: How much money have you got?
Somerset: For a long time, the F.B.I.'s been hooked into the library system, keeping accurate records. They monitor reading habits. Not every book, but certain ones are flagged. Books about... let's say, how to build a nuclear bomb, or maybe Mein Kampf. Whoever takes out a flagged book has their library records fed to the F.B.I. from then on.
Mills: You got to be kidding. How is this legal?
Somerset: Legal...illegal. These terms don't apply. They can't use the information directly, but it's a useful guide. It might sound silly, but you can't get a library card without i.d. and a current phone bill.
Somerset [Reading from one of John Doe's journals]: "What sick, ridiculous, puppets we are, and what a gross, little stage we dance on. What fun we have, dancing and fucking, not a care in the world. Not knowing that we are nothing. We are not what was intended. On the subway today, a man came up to me to start a conversation. He made small talk, a lonely man talking about the weather and other things. I tried to be pleasant and accommodating, but my head hurt from his banality. I almost didn't notice it had happened, but I suddenly threw up all over him. He was not pleased, and I couldn't stop laughing."
Crazed Man in Massage Parlour: GET THIS THING OFF OF ME! GET THIS THING OFF OF ME!
Mills: You didn't see anyone with a package, a knapsack, something under their arm?
Massage parlor employee: Everybody that comes in here has a package under their arms. Some guys are carrying suitcases full of stuff.
Mills: Do you like what you do for a living? These things you see?
Massage parlor employee: No, I don't. But that's life.
Somerset: This isn't going to have a happy ending. If we catch John Doe and he turns out to be the devil, I mean if he's Satan himself, that might live up to our expectations, but he's not the devil. He's just a man.
Somerset: People don't want a hero, they want to eat cheeseburgers, play the lotto and watch television.
Somerset: I just don't think I can continue to live in a place that embraces and nurtures apathy as if it was virtue.
Mills: You're no different. You're no better.
Somerset: I didn't say I was different or better. I'm not. Hell, I sympathize; I sympathize completely. Apathy is the solution. I mean, it's easier to lose yourself in drugs than it is to cope with life. It's easier to steal what you want than it is to earn it. It's easier to beat a child than it is to raise it. Hell, love costs: it takes effort and work.
Mills: We are talking about people who are mentally ill, we are talking about people who are fucking crazies.
Somerset: No. No, we're not. We're talking about everyday life here. You can't afford to be this naive.
Mills: I don't think you're quitting because you believe these things you say. I don't. I think you want to believe them, because you're quitting. And you want me to agree with you, and you want me to say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. You're right. It's all fucked up. It's a fucking mess. We should all go live in a fucking log cabin." But I won't. I don't agree with you. I do not. I can't.
We'll see about that.
Detective: He cut off her nose...
Somerset: ...to spite her face.
Somerset: If John Doe's head splits open and a UFO should fly out, I want you to have expected it.
John Doe: Wanting people to listen, you can't just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you'll notice you've got their strict attention.
Mills: I've been trying to figure something in my head, and maybe you can help me out, yeah? When a person is insane, as you clearly are, do you know that you're insane? Maybe you're just sitting around, reading "Guns and Ammo", masturbating in your own feces, do you just stop and go, "Wow! It is amazing how fucking crazy I really am!"? Yeah. Do you guys do that?
Mills: Wait, I thought all you did was kill innocent people.
John Doe: Innocent? Is that supposed to be funny? An obese man...a disgusting man who could barely stand up; a man who if you saw him on the street, you'd point him out to your friends so that they could join you in mocking him; a man, who if you saw him while you were eating, you wouldn't be able to finish your meal. After him, I picked the lawyer and I know you both must have been secretly thanking me for that one. This is a man who dedicated his life to making money by lying with every breath that he could muster to keeping murderers and rapists on the streets!
John Doe: A woman...
Mills: Murderers, John, like yourself?
John Doe: [interrupts] A woman...so ugly on the inside she couldn't bear to go on living if she couldn't be beautiful on the outside. A drug dealer, a drug dealing pederast, actually! And let's not forget the disease-spreading whore! Only in a world this shitty could you even try to say these were innocent people and keep a straight face. But that's the point. We see a deadly sin on every street corner, in every home, and we tolerate it. We tolerate it because it's common, it's trivial. We tolerate it morning, noon, and night. Well, not anymore. I'm setting the example. What I've done is going to be puzzled over and studied and followed...forever.
Mills: I seem to remember us knocking on your door.
John Doe: Oh, that's right. And I seem to remember breaking your face. You're only alive because I didn't kill you.
John Doe: Don't ask me to pity those people. I don't mourn them any more than I do the thousands that died at Sodom and Gomorrah.
Somerset: Is that to say, John, that what you were doing was God's good work?
John Doe: The Lord works in mysterious ways.
[Somerset looks at an object in the road]
Mills: What do you got?
Somerset: Dead dog.
John Doe: I didn't do that
Mills: What was in the box? What was in the box?
John Doe: She begged for her life...
Somerset: Shut up!
John Doe: She begged for her life and...
Somerset: Shut up!
John Doe: She begged for her life and the life of the baby inside her.
[Somerset punches him]
John Doe: Oh... he didn't know.
Somerset: David. If you kill him, he will win.
Somerset: Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part.