Preview by: Jack Foley
ROBIN Williams continues his foray into darker subject material
in The Final Cut, a new science-fiction thriller from first-time
writer-director, Omar Naim, which has divided the critics in America.
The film is set in a not-too-distant future when a Zoë
Chip is placed in peoples' brains at birth to record their entire
life. When they die, their life footage is edited into a 'Rememory',
which is then shown at the person's funeral, having been pieced
together by an editor.
Zoe Chips are designed as the latest toys for the privileged,
but they have opponents, who believe that memories are meant to
Working in this field is Alan Hackman (Williams), generally considered
to be the best 'cutter' in the business because of his ability
to grant the corrupt absolution of the sins of his clients.
But his talent comes at great personal cost, as he becomes a
cold and distant man, who is now unable to experience life in
the first person.
However, while cutting a Rememory for a high-powered colleague,
Alan discovers an image from his childhood that has haunted him
his entire life, and the discovery prompts a high-intensity search
for truth and his own, personal, redemption.
Williams says he was attracted to the role because of the quality
of Naïm's script, insisting that he found himself surprised
at every turn in the story.
"Plus, the idea of that technology… it seems in the
last couple of months there have been a lot of articles about
the idea of implants, either memory monitors or things that would
augment memory. That's fascinating, as is the idea of subjective
versus objective memory."
He adds: "It [the chip] is the ultimate home movie. The
trend started with digital photography. People now catalogue a
lot of digital video and share their archives on their own websites.
Now, instead of having 15 minutes of fame, you can kind of augment
that with people putting cameras in bedrooms. Everything can be
So the movie also serves as a cautionary tale, as well as an
intriguing 'what if' scenario. It also offers the intriguing possibility
of seeing Williams in yet another dark role, following his equally
riveting turns in Insomnia and
One Hour Photo.
Critics, however, were a little divided on whether the film
worked, even though most praised Williams for delivering one of
creepiest turns yet.
The Chicago Tribune, for instance, referred
to it as a 'fairly well done but deadly dull futuristic thriller
about life-long memory-recording implants and guilt, this movie
wastes more talent, including lead Robin Williams, than an all-star
TV poker game'.
Likewise, the Los Angeles Times, which wrote
that 'The Final Cut lays waste to its provocative premise and
a fine performance from Robin Williams with a murky story line
that renders the film not worth the effort'.
And Variety, which felt that 'striking visuals
help, but pic won't make the cut with genre fans or the arthouse
Hollywood Reporter wrote that 'no re-edits
can save The Final Cut from its own preposterousness and lack
of genuine thrills'.
While Entertainment Weekly felt that 'if there
are decent, human, post-Good Will Hunting roles for the actor
somewhere between the manic and the catatonic, Williams hasn't
found them'. It added that it was 'quiet and sleepy'.
More positive, however, was the Minneapolis Star Tribune,
which wrote that 'Williams is as creepy as we've ever seen him',
while the Dallas Morning News opined: "First-time
writer-director, Omar Naim, has created a moody, unsettling minimalist
sci-fi tale that explores the malleability of the memories that
may or may not make us who we are."
Filmcritic.com felt that 'the director juggles
some enticing threads, then chooses the least interesting one
to follow through on'.
But LA Weekly felt that it 'becomes so cluttered
with concept and design, it fails to get even a toehold on the
humanistic subtext it's clearly reaching for'.
And the Boston Phoenix dismissed it as 'a confused
film littered with formulaic subplots'.
Disappointing, too, was the verdict from the New York
Daily News, which opined that it 'can't cope with its
And TV Guide, which dismissed it as 'a frustrating
exercise in missed opportunities'.
It remains to be seen what UK viewers make of it - although there
is no date pencilled in as yet.