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Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi.
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.
David 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! David Mills: Murderers? John Doe: A woman... David 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.
David Mills: What's in the box?
William Somerset: David. If you kill him, he will win.
William Somerset: I just don't think I can continue to live in a place that embraces and nurtures apathy as if it was virtue. David Mills: You're no different. You're no better. William 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.
[William Somerset looks at an object in the road] David Mills: What do you got? William Somerset: Dead dog. John Doe: I didn't do that.
John Doe: [about Tracy to Mills] She begged for her life... William Somerset: Shut up! John Doe: She begged for her life and... William Somerset: Shut up! John Doe: She begged for her life, and the life of the baby inside her. William Somerset: [backhanding Doe] Shut up! [Mills freezes in grieved disbelief, and Doe notices] John Doe: [to Somerset] Oh...! He didn't know.
David Mills: I seem to remember us knocking on your door. John Doe: Oh, that's right. And I seem to remember breaking your face.
David 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?
John Doe: What sick ridiculous puppets we are / and what 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.
John Doe: It seems that envy is my sin.
Police Captain: [answering phone that interrupted his conversation] This is not even my desk! [hangs up]
William Somerset: 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.
John Doe: It's more comfortable for you to label me as insane. David Mills: It's VERY comfortable.
William Somerset: This guy's methodical, exacting, and worst of all, patient. David Mills: He's a nut-bag! Just because the fucker's got a library card doesn't make him Yoda!
John Doe: Become vengeance, David. Become wrath.
John Doe: Realize detective, the only reason that I'm here right now is that I wanted to be. David Mills: No, no, we would have got you eventually. John Doe: Oh really? So, what were you doing? Biding your time? Toying with me? Allowing five innocent people to die until you felt like springing your trap? Tell me, what was the indisputable evidence you were going to use on me right before I walked up to you and put my hands in the air?
David Mills: C'mon, he's insane. Look. Right now he's probably dancing around in his grandma's panties, yeah, rubbing himself in peanut butter.
David Mills: He's fuckin' with us! [Mills bends over a desk] David Mills: See this? This is us.
David Mills: [Banging a book in frustration] Fuckin' Dante... poetry-writing faggot! Piece of shit, motherfucker!
David Mills: You're no messiah. You're a movie of the week. You're a fucking t-shirt, at best.
John Doe: People will barely be able to comprehend it, but they won't be able to deny it.
Photographer: I got your picture man, I got your picture! David Mills: Oh yeah? Detective Mills, M-I-L-L-S, fuck off!
William Somerset: This isn't going to have a happy ending.
William Somerset: But you gotta be a, a hero. You want to be a champion. Well, let me tell you. People don't want a champion. They want to eat cheeseburgers, play the lotto and watch television.
David 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 won't say that. I don't agree with you. I do not. I can't.
William Somerset: [Reading from one of John Doe's journals] 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.
Dr. Beardsley: 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.
David Mills: Yeah, a landlord's dream: a paralyzed tenant with no tongue. William Somerset: Who pays the rent on time.
John Doe: Nothing wrong with a man taking pleasure in his work. I won't deny my own personal desire to turn each sin against the sinner.
William Somerset: [to Tracy] Anyone who spends a significant amount of time with me finds me disagreeable. Just ask your husband. David Mills: Very true. Very, very true.
William Somerset: If John Doe's head splits open and a UFO should fly out, I want you to have expected it.
William Somerset: Did the kid see it? Detective Taylor: What? William Somerset: The kid Detective 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.
[picks up the phone] David Mills: Hello? John Doe: I admire you. I don't know how you found me, but imagine my surprise. I respect you law enforcement agents more everyday. David Mills: Well, I appreciate that... John. I tell you... John Doe: No, no, you listen, all right? I'll be readjusting my schedule in light of today's little... setback. I just had to call and express my admiration. Sorry I had to hurt... one of you, but I really didn't have a choice, did I? David Mills: Hmm. John Doe: You will accept my apology, won't you? I feel like saying more, but I don't want to ruin the surprise. [hangs up]
John Doe: [to Mills] Detective. Detective. DETECTIVE! You're looking for me.
David Mills: [greeting his wife after coming home from work] Hey, loser. Tracy Mills: Hi, idiot.
John Doe: I visited your home this morning after you'd left. I tried to play husband. I tried to taste the life of a simple man. It didn't work out, so I took a souvenir... her pretty head.
William Somerset: [discovering what's inside the package] California, tell your people to stay away. Stay away now, don't - don't come in here. Whatever you hear, stay away! John Doe has the upper hand!
William Somerset: We'll just talk to him. David Mills: Uh huh. Yeah. Excuse me, sir. Are you, by any chance, a serial killer? Okay. William Somerset: You do the talking. Put that silver tongue of yours to work. David Mills: Have you been talking to my wife?
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. William Somerset: Is that to say, John, that what you were doing was God's good work? John Doe: The Lord works in mysterious ways.
David Mills: Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a homicide.
David Mills: Honestly, have you ever seen anything like this? William Somerset: No.
David 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. William 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. Good night.
William Somerset: It's impressive to see a man feeding off his emotions.
[last lines] William Somerset: Hemingway once wrote, "The world's a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part.
Cop on SWAT Team: [preparing to break down a door] SWAT goes before dicks.
William Somerset: [after finding out that Detective Mills's apartment is close to the railway tracks] Just a soothing, relaxing, vibrating home huh? [chuckles to himself] William Somerset: [recovers] I'm sorry. [laughs hysterically, Tracy joins in]
William Somerset: Gentlemen, gentlemen... I'll never understand. All these books, a world of knowledge at your fingertips. What do you do? You play poker all night. Library Guard: Hey! We've got culture! We've got culture comin' out our ass! George, Library Night Guard: [turns on classical music] How's this for culture?
Mark Swarr: My client says there are two more bodies... two more victims, hidden away. He will take Detectives Mills and Somerset to these bodies, but only Detectives Mills and Somerset, and only at six o'clock today. David Mills: Why us? Mark Swarr: He says he admires you.
William Somerset: I meant to ask you something before, when we spoke on the phone: Why here? David Mills: I don't follow. William Somerset: Why all the effort to get transferred? It's the first question that popped into my head. David Mills: I guess the same reasons as you. The same reasons you had before you decided to quit, yeah? William Somerset: Y... You just met me. David Mills: Maybe I'm not understanding the question. William Somerset: Very simple. You actually fought to get re-assigned here. I've just never seen it done that way before.
Police Captain: [to Mills] What do you think? David Mills: I'm in. Mark Swarr: It has to be both of you. William Somerset: If he were to claim insanity, this conversation is admissable. The fact that he's blackmailing us with his plea... Mark Swarr: And my client reminds you, two more are dead. The press would have a field day if they found out the police didn't seem too concerned about finding them... giving them a proper burial William Somerset: If there really are two more dead.
David Mills: Who knows. So many freaks out there doin' their little evil deeds they don't wanna do... "The voices made me do it. My dog made me do it. Jodie Foster told me to do it."
[Mrs. Gould is being shown photos of her husband's murder scene] David Mills: Mrs. Gould, I'm truly sorry. I truly am. Mrs. Gould: [sobs as she looks at the photos] I don't understand. David Mills: Okay. I need you to look at each photo very carefully. Look and see if there's anything strange or out of place, um. Anything at all. Mrs. Gould: I don't see anything. David Mills: You sure? Mrs. Gould: [emotional] Please! I-I-I just, I-I can't do this right now! David Mills: Okay. William Somerset: [whispering to Mills] It's got to be now. There may be something we haven't seen. Mrs. Gould: [turning to the next photo] Wait. David Mills: What? Mrs. Gould: Here. This painting. It's upside down.
David Mills: Do you like what you do for a living? These things you see? Man in Massage Parlour Booth: No, I don't. But that's life.
California: Somebody call somebody.
David Mills: Why us? Mark Swarr: He says he admires you.
[first lines] Detective Taylor: Neighbors heard them screaming at each other, like for two hours, and it was nothing new. Then they heard the gun go off, both barrels. Crime of passion. William Somerset: Yeah, just look at all the passion on that wall.
Police Officer at Gluttony crime scene: Nothing's been touched. Everything's like I found it. William Somerset: What time was death established? Police Officer at Gluttony crime scene: 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. David Mills: Wait a minute, no one bothers with vital signs? Police Officer at Gluttony crime scene: Did I stutter? This guy ain't breathing unless he's breathing spaghetti sauce. David Mills: So that's how it's done around here. Police Officer at Gluttony crime scene: 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.
Crazed Man in Massage Parlour: He-he put that thing on me...! He made me wear it!... He told me to fuck her, and... and I did! I fucked her! He had a gun in my mouth! The fucking gun was in my throat! FUCK! Oh, god, oh, god... please help me. Help me. Please help me.
David Mills: You've read my files, right? You've seen the things I've done? William Somerset: No.
David Mills: How is it working for a scumbug like this? You proud of yourself? Police Captain: Ease back, Mills. Mark Swarr: I'm required by law to serve my clients to the best of my ability, and to serve their best interests.
George, Library Night Guard: Yo, smiley. You're really going to miss us. William Somerset: I just might!
David Mills: How much money do we have left?
California: [to Victor] You got what you deserved.
David Bowie: The heart's filthy lesson... falls upon deaf ears...
William Somerset: [as SWAT prepare to breach and clear] They love this.
William Somerset: Oh, wait! You care? David Mills: Damn right. William Somerset: And you're going to make a difference?
[Mills complaining to Somerset] David Mills: I'm so sick of waiting for him to commit his next crime. Man, why aren't we out there?
David Mills: [Looking at the book list] "Of Human Bondage". Bondage? William Somerset: It's not what you think.
David Mills: Now, I wasn't standing around guarding the taco-bell, alright? I worked homicide for five years. William Somerset: Not here. David Mills: I understand that. William Somerset: Well, over the next seven days, Detective, you'll do me the favour of remembering that.
Nine Inch Nails: You get me closer to God!
David Mills: Get out of the FUCKING HALL, police!
William Somerset: Even the most promising clues usually only lead to others.
Crazed Man in Massage Parlour: Get this thing off of me! Get this thing off of me!
Police Captain: You're retiring, six more days and you're all the way gone.
William Somerset: May I speak freely? Police Captain: We're all friends here. William Somerset: This should not be his first assignment.
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