THE FINAL CUT
****1/2 (out of 5)
October 15, 2004
Robin Williams as ALAN HAKMAN
Mira Sorvino as DELILA
Jim Caviezel as FLETCHER
Mimi Kuzyk as THELMA
Stephanie Romanov as JENNIFER BANNISTER
Thom Bishops as HASAN
Genevieve Buechner as ISABEL BANNISTER
Studio: Lion’s Gate
Directed by: Omar Naim
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
“The Final Cut” embodies the true essence of speculative fiction. For the uninitiated, the term “speculative fiction” was adopted by a contingency of science fiction writers who hated the pop term “sci fi.” Speculative fiction is supposed to have more art in it than popular fiction. It is supposed to be more cerebral and more grounded in reality.
Like many of David Cronenberg’s films, “The Final Cut” takes otherwise fantastic elements and blends them with everyday reality. Like Cronenberg’s underrated “eXistanZ,” “The Final Cut” plays with the audience minds by playing with those of the characters.
Robin Williams stars as Alan Hakman, who lives in an alternate reality in which parents can get an implant put in their children’s brains which will record the audio and video of their entire lives. Cutters are specially trained editors who then extract the video imagery from the implant to put together a “rememory,” which is basically a two hour video eulogy.
The big problem is that no one is 100% good. We all have our dark sides – or at least we all have our moments that we don’t want anyone to see. Alan is one of the best cutters around, and he is very familiar with dumping unpleasant implant footage, such as spousal abuse, adultery and murder. Part of what makes Alan such a good cutter is that he is haunted by his own memory as a child – a memory about an event that caused the death of another boy.
One day, Alan is approached with a new project: the rememory of an executive from the company that makes the implants. This project serves as a catalyst in his life. It opens up clues to his own past and his own haunting memories. It also opens up some skeletons in the dead man’s life. And it opens Alan up to a radical group seeking to exploit the information in the implant.
“The Final Cut” continues Williams’ performances as darker characters. While he’s not the bad guy like he was in “Death to Smoochy,” “Insomnia” and “One Hour Photo,” he still shows his incredible dramatic acting chops. In fact, films like “The Final Cut” show that Williams is arguably a better dramatic actor than he is a funnyman.
The supporting cast in general is quite good, headed up by Jesus Christ himself, Jim Caviezel. The only weak link in the supporting cast chain is Mira Sorvino, whose performance made me wonder why she ever won the Oscar in the first place.
Ultimately, the real power in “The Final Cut” is that it opens up the can of worms known as privacy. It’s bad enough that you don’t know who’s watching you with hidden cameras and who’s tracking the web sites you visit with spybot cookies. Can you imagine a world where these implants are forced into you by your parents? Like many devices and techniques that infringe upon our privacy, they’re introduced in a fairly mundane or even benevolent way. But imagine the consequences if these types of implants were a reality.
What really drives these issues home is the fact that the film takes place in an alternative reality rather than a not-too-distant future. Putting moral dilemmas in the future allows us to dismiss them easier. However, here we are presented with this dilemma in modern times. There’s no flying cars or video telephones to distract us.
The ending of this film isn’t as strong as the rest of it, and that’s a shame. It ends rather abruptly, and is satisfying but not spectacular. “The Final Cut” is one of those unfortunate films that is quite good but will probably fall through the cracks of Hollywood. It’s a more cerebral and speculative film than a crowd pleaser like “Shark Tale,” and it’s not exactly what could be classified as a family film. But it is better than most of what’s out there and definitely worth a look-see if you’re lucky enough for it to come to your town.