A/V Room









The Final Cut - Preview & US reaction

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 fade.

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 recorded."

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.


US reaction

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 crowd'.

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." 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 own weirdness'.

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.



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