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Movie Review

The Final Cut

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material, some violence, sexuality and language

Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
STAFF WRITER

Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults
Genre:
Science Fiction, Drama
Length:
1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release:
2004
USA Release:
______
Featuring: Robin Williams, Mira Sorvino, James Caviezel, Stephanie Romanov, Genevieve Buechner
Director: Omar Naim
Producer: Nick Wechsler
Distributor: Lions Gate Films

“Every moment of your life recorded. Would you live it differently?”

Imagine watching your life as a movie with all of the corrupt things you have ever done eliminated. “The Final Cut” more or less engages this idea, exploring the possibility of recording somebody’s entire life, and making even the worst sinner look like a saint. While containing a futuristic feel, this innovative idea seems like an inevitable story concept for our era, but its potential in this film feels like it’s been cut a bit short.

Alan Hakman (Robin Williams) works as a “cutter,” editing video footage of a person’s entire life obtained through a recording device implanted in them before they are born. Motivated by guilt from his childhood, Alan has achieved admiration and hatred for his work as a “man” that “hacks” away other people’s sinful actions, producing a kind of movie (complete with music) played at the person’s funeral. Encountering Fletcher (James Caviezel)—a present opponent—as well as shame from his past, Alan’s future is finally determined when his life is tweaked to become something redemptive.

Some of the illicit incidents that Alan cuts and splices from people’s lives are exposed during the course of the movie. One brief moment depicts a man abusing his wife. Another curtly depicts an explicit sexual encounter. And the most disconcerting involves a man talking to his daughter before she goes to bed, inviting her to visit his den. The insinuation is that this man (named Bannister) sexually abuses his daughter, a controversy that provides one of the subplots for the movie.

Aside from these clips, one scene portrays someone falling from a significant height—showing what looks like blood surrounding the lifeless body. The language is quite tame, with only a few foul words dispersed throughout. What is interesting, however, is how the film confronts so many issues involving morality and ethics regarding how we live our lives.

One debate that arises more than once is whether this technology (called the Zoe Implant) is fundamentally wrong or not. A group of anti-implant protestors argue against the technology, stating, “It is not our place to see through other people’s eyes. It is for God, and God only.” Similarly, Alan’s girlfriend Delila (Mira Sorvino) uncovers footage of her and her ex-boyfriend on Alan’s editing machine and rages against him, asking, “Who are you Alan? Those memories belong to me and him. No one else. Who are you?” The problem surrounding this invention is that it’s not only the person who has the implant that you are observing, but also the other people in their life.

What is sobering is the reality that our entire lives are being observed—by God. He knows every single one of us, and knows every single thing that we have done. David expresses this in Psalms when he says, “O Lord, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely” (Psalm 139:1-4). It is convicting to know that God sees all of our actions and even knows all of our thoughts! But it can also be encouraging to know that there is a God who cares about us so specifically. And no matter how bad are our actions, the good news is that He loves us and is willing and able to forgive us and grant us grace to accomplish what is good and pleasing to Him.

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The movie’s concept is fascinating, but the story used to portray it isn’t as promising. It is entertaining, but the subplot about Alan’s past doesn’t seem to mesh well with the pressing dilemma regarding Bannister and Fletcher’s need of his implant. Some of the twists are also unfulfilling. Williams plays his serious role well, recalling hints of his workaholic loner character from “Awakenings.” The sci-fi-ish world of the film is also engrossing, similar to the concept driven movie “Minority Report.” Perhaps we’ll see more of this implant idea in the future, but with better developed stories worked in—and the underwhelming ones cut out.

Violence: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Negative—Almost good, but misses the mark. Imaginative plot, but fails to live up to its potential.
My Ratings: [Average/1½]
—Tom LaHue, age 33