I wonder how many films there are like The Final Cut, which takes a perfectly interesting premise and then does very little with it.With a first rate cast on the screen (Robin Williams, Mira Sorvino and James Caviezel), it’s kind of a shame they’re working from a script that totally fails to make the most of the possibilities inherent in the movie’s basic concept.
An unspecified number of years in the future, unborn babies can be implanted with a device that records a persons memories for their entire life. When that person dies, the “footage” is extracted from that device and edited down to be played back at the person’s funeral, devoid of all the ugly, unpleasant parts we’d prefer not to remember about our loved ones. A “cutter” is the person charged with editing a person’s life and making the deceased look like a saint and Alan Hakman (Williams) is the best, mostly because he is able to stomach the more unpleasant lives without burning out. William’s plays this role as a cold, closed-off man who does little to earn the audience’s sympathy.
The only catch is that a “cutters” aren’t allowed to have their own implants, lest they create an alternate record of all the stuff they cut out of other people’s lives, such as the deceased cheating on his wife with her best friend. This code comes in real handy when the subject is someone like Charles Bannister, a bigwig with EyeTech, the company that created the implants. Not only does he have inside knowledge about flaws in the technology but he was also sexually abusing his own daughter (Genevieve Buechner). This information is of great interest to those opposed to the technology for its stifling affect on human interaction and free speech. The leader of the movement, an ex-cutter named Fletcher (Caviezel), will stop at nothing to get the Bannister footage from Hakman.
For his part, Hakman becomes obsessed with the Bannister footage when he sees someone who may be the solution to his guilt over the childhood tragedy that opens the film.
Sorvino plays Hakman’s sort of girlfriend, who’s on hand mostly to pop in and out of his life and comment negatively on his profession. Her role winds up only filling time while distracting the movie from more interesting matters. Unfortunately, those more interesting matters exist mostly as possibilities rather than realized story points. The film never really gets around to examining its premise, which seems like a riff on the equally flawed but much more entertaining Strange Days.
At only ninety minutes, this movie could have stood for some fleshing out of its story and characters. Also, I think writer/director Omar Naim needed to make a clearer decision on what The Final Cut is about, the technology or Hakman’s childhood trauma. The film never seems to find the balance between the two storylines.