Julio Olivera’s review published on Letterboxd:
I wonder if those of us who watched SE7EN at the right moment in our lives are doomed to forever compare every crime thriller to David Fincher’s masterpiece. Can’t be helped. Ten, fifteen minutes into this, I was like “Oh, this is John Lee Hancock’s SE7EN.”
I appreciate what JLH is trying to do here. Unfortunately, the film falls in the trap of placing all the emotional payoff on a climactic twist. It makes for a powerful reveal, but it also feels a little gimmicky - like the filmmaker didn’t trust the story and its themes to be compelling enough if they weren’t wrapped around a gotcha moment. And that’s the problem: the exploration of what “the job” does to a homicide detective, and the lengths the department will go to protect its own... that’s interesting stuff. But I felt it wasn’t explored enough because there was a twist that needed to be preserved at all cost.
The real problem though - and your mileage may vary - is Rami Malek is miscast. I don’t think I’ve ever disliked him in a movie, and I was trying really hard to buy him as a promising smart cop here but it just didn’t happen. The worst part is the story requires us to buy some pretty contrived developments down the line, and that hinges on us buying into Malek’s character. Couldn’t do it, sorry. As I was watching the third act unfold, I kept thinking of more believable ways the plot could’ve gone, and by the time the movie was over I realized none of those alternatives would’ve worked because of the precious twist. What a shame.