Robin Williams as Alan W. Hakman
Mira Sorvino as Delila
James Caviezel as Fletcher
Genevieve Buechner as Isabel Bannister
Thom Bishops as Hasan
Leanne Adachi as Nathalie
Mimi Kuzyk as Thelma
Stephanie Romanov as Jennifer Bannister
Don Ackerman as Tattooed Man
Stefan Arngrim as Spidery Man/Oliver
Noah Beggs as Protester
Andrew Bramley as Doctor
Christopher Britton as Jason
Casey Dubois as Young Alan Hakman
Jim Francis as Professor
Vincent Gale as Simon
Darren Hird as Danny Monroe
Miguelito Macario as Rom
Darren Shahlavi as Karim
In some indistinct time and place, the wealthy can have a “Zoe” implant placed in their children at birth that will record all of their memories. At death, those memories can be edited together and viewed by loved ones so that the deceased will always be remembered. Alan Hakman (Robin Williams) is the best “cutter” in the business, viewing and assembling the “Rememories” taken from the Zoe implant, but ignoring anything incriminating to keep his client’s good name alive. When he begins working on the high profile case of a dead tycoon, dark secrets from his own past return to haunt him.
Mixing an Orwellian vision with a concept that would make Phillip K. Dick proud, The Final Cut is another interesting suspense thriller that could be deemed science fiction due to its use of a scientific concept to steer its premise. The use of this technology brings up immediate comparisons to Minority Report, and like that book/movie, this is an idea rife with possibilities, because it shows how true memories can be faulty when compared to those captured by the Zoe implant.
The movie begins with a sequence showing two young boys playing before something bad happens to one of them. Decades later, the surviving boy is a quiet man named Alan Hakman who is flourishing as a “cutter”, often being called in to handle tricky cases of questionable public figures that might not want their secrets known even after death. Like the main characters’ name, the film’s title is a bit a play on words on the computer software used by many film editors to edit their movies together. Hakman takes his job just as seriously, cutting hundreds of thousands of memories into 100-minute “rememories” with the same love and care one might give to an art film. Essentially, he’s a cross between a mortician and a filmmaker.
The idea of having all memories recorded brings up a lot of questions and implications much like it did in Orwell’s 1984. When a subject with a Zoe implant learns about it at the recommended age of 21, do they suddenly turn a new leaf and try to be better people, since they know everything they do may be watched later? As is the case every time any groundbreaking or controversial technology is introduced, the Zoe process has stirred up an entire movement of tattooed protestors hellbent on ending what they consider to be an invasion of privacy.
Despite the strong premise, the movie is really about Hakman. By now, it’s not nearly as jarring to see Williams playing this type of role and he’s clearly back in One Hour Photo mode here, giving another strong but subdued performance to create a character whose emotions have been stunted by his work. Though flawed, Hakman is a much more likeable character then “Photo”‘s Sy Parrish, but his relationship with a sweet bookseller, played by Mira Sorvino, doesn’t seem very believable, and the subplot is little more than a distraction. The only other “known” actor, The Passion of The Christ star Jim Caviezel, plays Hakman’s main rival, who is trying to get the tycoon’s Zoe implant in order to cover up his wrongdoings. While that is the movie’s real plot, it’s not nearly as captivating as Hakman’s attempts to come to terms with what he saw as a youth.
Those looking for an action-packed sci-fi thriller might be disappointed by the movie’s slow dialogue-driven pace, and certain elements of the plot, like the “secret” being kept by the tycoon’s daughter, are far too obvious. Eventually, the pace does pick up with a number of tension-filled moments and unexpected turns that change’s the perception of what is going on. These developments are enough for the movie to keep one’s attention, making one realize how easily the idea could be spun-off into a one-hour television drama in which “The Cutter” spends each episode trying to solve a mystery.
Despite the slow pace and the plot problems, this is a promising first feature from director Omar Naim with a great look thanks to cinematographer Tak Fujimoto, who was Jonathan Demme’s right hand cameraman for most of his career. As expected, they use the film’s rather unique premise by editing in sequences shown like a “view from the implant” in some of the movie’s more climactic scenes.
The Bottom Line:
The slow pace of The Final Cut might make it hard for everyone to get into immediately, but the intelligent concept is used in enough intriguing ways to keep the viewer’s rapt attention, and the surprise twists and solid pay-off make it a decent thriller in the vein of The Butterfly Effect.