The Final Cut
October 6, 2005
The Final Cut (2004) takes place in the near future where it is possible to have a device implanted in your body that records your life through your own eyes, from when you are born to when you die. Alan Hakman (Williams) is a “cutter,” someone who edits a person’s life into a highlight reel for their family as a kind of final testimonial. In doing so, he edits out all the ugly bits in a person’s life in favour of a sanitized version. The work he does raises an interesting ethical question: who has the right to record every detail of a person’s life, from the cradle to the grave, and then edit it in a particular way once they’re dead?
Hakman is a meek, non-descript man who leads an ordinary existence and is involved with a beautiful woman (Sorvino) who runs her own bookstore. His next assignment is cutting the life of hi-tech lawyer, Charles Bannister, a nasty guy who’s done all sorts of awful things during his existence. But Hakman is the best at what he does which makes him the ideal person to present a white-wash version of this man’s life.
This process is protested by an angry group of people who believe that one should rely on their own personal memories of a deceased loved one. If you think about it, in a weird kind of way, what Hakman does is no different than say a home movie—albeit one that runs the duration of your life. He is merely editing a person’s life from beyond the grave. To make his life even harder is the presence of Fletcher (Caviezel), an ex-Cutter associate of Hakman’s who wants Bannister’s footage and is willing to kill for it. Inevitably, Hakman comes across footage while cutting Bannister’s life that makes him seriously question his own.
Robin Williams essays one of his restrained performances that he’s been working on recently with movies like Insomnia (2002) and One Hour Photo (2002). In The Final Cut, he remains sedate and impassive for so long that you yearn for one of his manic episodes. Williams is at his least animated, short of being in a self-induced coma.
In some respects, The Final Cut resembles a more staid version of Strange Days (1995) which also dealt with people’s recorded lives and the repercussions that comes from messing with one’s memories. It is an idea that author Philip K. Dick dealt with often in his books and was later explored in the CyberPunk fiction in the ‘80s. The Final Cut poses some interesting questions, none of which are anything that hasn’t been posed before, but ultimately is a rather ordinary film—certainly not awful but nothing to write home about either.
There is an audio commentary by director Omar Naim. Years ago, while a student filmmaker, he became fascinated with the film editing process and wondered, what if you applied it to someone’s entire life? Naim takes us through the film’s evolution of how it got made and credits Robin Williams’ interest with it ultimately being given the go-ahead.
There is a theatrical trailer.
“Making of Final Cut” is a 26-minute look at how this film came together. It was modestly budgeted so names like Williams and Mira Sorvino weren’t doing it for the money. What strikes you about Naim is how young he seems which makes it much more impressive that he was able to get all of these veteran actors on board.
“Production Design Featurette” takes a look at Naim’s desire to create a “world drenched in nostalgia” and not some sleek, hi-tech world.
The “Special Effects Featurette” briefly looks at this not particularly effects-heavy movie but there were scenes (images on Hakman’s computer) that were done with CGI.
Also included are three deleted scenes that feature some nice moments between characters but nothing earth-shattering.
“From Pre-Production to Screen” compares the storyboards with on-set footage and with the final product from two scenes.