The Final Cut (DVD, 2005) Reviews
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The Final Cut (DVD, 2005)

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Robin Williams Knows the Secrets of the Dead in The Final Cut

Apr 10, 2005
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Robin Williams. Interesting, unique idea for the plot.

Cons:Certain things weren't fully explored. Could be too slow moving for some people.

The Bottom Line: The Final Cut is a unique, interesting movie that is worth seeing. Fans of Robin Williams may enjoy it.

I have been a fan of Robin Williams for years. I have seen and enjoyed most of his movies. He has made several that were very popular, but he also makes some that are very good but don’t have a big studio behind them, so they don’t do big at the box office. The Final Cut is one of those movies. I heard some good things about it about when it was released in 2004, but I had to wait to rent it to see it since it didn’t make it to the theater here in town.

The time period for The Final Cut was never established. It looked like it could have been taking place now, but there were some things that looked like they were from the past, mostly cars. Other things were very modern looking. In the movie, technology was advanced and many people had something called a Zoe implant in their brains. Parents would decide to get the implant for their unborn child and it would record every second of the person’s life from birth. After death, the footage was given to someone called a cutter who would go through all the footage and edit it down to be shown at a rememory ceremony. Friends and family would go to the rememory to watch the memories. Rememory ceremonies were held instead of funerals. Cutters couldn’t have a Zoe implant of their own. They saw everything that happened in a person’s life, and made decisions about what to include for the rememory and what to delete. There were groups that were against the implants and wanted to stop them from being used.

Alan Hakman was considered the best cutter in town. He didn’t have much of a life outside of work. He was interested in Delila, a young woman that worked in a bookstore. Thelma, another cutter, told Alan about a job she had turned down. Charles Bannister had been an attorney for EYE, the company that makes the Zoe implants. His wife, Jennifer, had to fight the company to get her husband’s chip after his death. Jennifer hired Alan to do a rememory for her husband. Fletcher, a former cutter that knew Alan, showed up wanting the footage from Charles’s implant. Fletcher was part of the movement against the Zoe implants and he was determined to get his hands on the footage. Alan wouldn’t give Fletcher what he wanted. When he was working on it, he saw something in one of the memories that connected to his past. Alan became obsessed with finding out more about that memory. His search caused him to discover some surprising things about himself as well.

The Final Cut was a unique movie. I did think it was a science fiction type of story, though it wasn’t as strange as some science fiction can be. The world the movie was set in didn’t really look futuristic. There wasn’t anything too bizarre in the movie, but it was different. The idea of a chip that would be implanted in the brain of an unborn child is creepy. It wasn’t explained how the implant was done, and I don’t think I want to know that either. After death, the implant is removed and the footage is given to a cutter who would sort through the memories and decide what should be in the rememory for friends and family to see. The cutter would see everything, the good, the bad, and the personal, in the ultimate invasion of privacy. People didn’t even get to decide for themselves if they wanted to have one of the chips. The decision was made for them, by their parents, before they were born. Children wouldn’t know that they had the chip until their parents decided to tell them. Some didn’t find out until they were twenty-one. The people that were against the implants felt that it wasn’t right for cutters to see all the memories of other people. It doesn’t seem natural. No one could monitor the memories while the person was alive, but it still didn’t seem right.

The idea of the Zoe implant is interesting, but I wouldn’t want something like that and I wouldn’t want to be a cutter. Memories are personal, and it seems wrong for other people to be able to see them. In theory it seems like it would be good to preserve memories, but there are all kinds of other implications to that technology. Cutters saw all kinds of horrible things that they would edit out of the rememory. There was a cutter’s code, but it didn’t address what a cutter should do about questionable memories or if they discovered that someone had committed a crime. The goal for cutters seemed to be to create a rememory that made a person look perfect instead of one that showed them accurately. Someone did say in the movie that cutters could make murderers look like saints. That seems wrong to me, but it is what the cutters did. Some ethical questions were raised, but they weren’t really answered. Alan showed Delila footage from several people’s memories in his efforts to win her over. She wasn’t a cutter or Alan’s assistant, so she really had no business seeing those things. She talked about how she hadn’t been able to stay through the rememory of a former boyfriend because it didn’t seem right, but she didn’t seem to be bothered by seeing things from the memories of strangers. The group that was against the Zoe implant was willing to go to extreme measures, including violence, to end the use of the implants. One character even brushed off something, saying it was done for the greater good.

Early in the movie, the beginning moments of a rememory that Alan worked on were shown. The video quality of the implant footage was different from the video quality of the main part of the movie. The implant footage showed what the person with the implant saw. The footage was a bit shaky, and filmed on hand held cameras, but it fit into the movie all right. It didn’t annoy me like that type of footage usually does in movies. Those scenes weren’t so shaky that it was hard to tell what was going on. Once Alan accepted the job to make a rememory for Charles Bannister, he was shown working on making the rememory. Different clips from Charles’s life were shown. Alan did edit out something that would have changed how people remembered Charles if it had been left in. Fletcher was determined to get the footage from Charles’s implant. Fletcher believed he could use something from the footage to bring down EYE and stop the use of the Zoe implant. I was never completly sure if he was looking for some sort of personal information about Charles that would have exposed him as a horrible person or if Fletcher was after memories that Charles had from working at EYE. The one thing that Alan was shown editing out did implicate that Charles had done something horrible. It would have been bad, especially for his family if it came out, but I don’t know that it would have worked for Fletcher’s plan to bring down EYE. I would have liked it if it had been a little more clear exactly what Fletcher was hoping to find in the footage.

There was some mystery in The Final Cut. There was also a bit of suspense in some scenes, but overall it wasn’t the most suspenseful movie. The trailer for the movie did make it seem like it would be more of a thriller than I thought it turned out to be. It looked like there would be more suspense and action in the movie. I did still enjoy the movie and think it is worth seeing. I was just expecting something a little different. There were a few scenes that had a faster pace, but most of the movie had a slower pace. It wasn’t an action packed movie. That was fine with me, but some people may be disappointed by that, especially with how the movie was portrayed in the trailer. I felt that the slower pace worked for the movie. It didn’t bore me at all. I was very interested in the movie. I think it is one of the most unique movies I’ve ever seen. There aren’t that many truly unique movies made anymore, so when one like this comes along, it is worth seeing. There were some surprises in the movie. People expecting an edge of your seat fast paced thriller will probably end up being disappointed. People looking for a movie like that should pick something else to watch.

The Zoe implants, cutters, and rememory ceremonies are new concepts that were created for The Final Cut. I don’t remember ever seeing a movie that had anything similar to those things. Alan was shown working on footage of memories a few times with a machine used to edit memories. Thelma was briefly shown using her machine as well. The machine had some modern technology, like flat panel monitors, but also looked older too since it was made of wood. That did make the machine look even more interesting. The cutters had the large main machines where they did most of the editing work in their homes. A portion of the machine that looked like a laptop computer could be removed and taken to other locations to view rememories. The movie did have a unique look that blended modern things, like the technology for the implants, with older looking items, like some appliances and cars. It did work for the movie. That blend did make it difficult to tell if the movie was supposed to be in modern times or if it was supposed to be sometime in the future. Some special effects were used, mostly in scenes that showed images streaming across the monitors of Alan’s machine. A few other scenes also had some effects. The effects that were used in the movie blended in well and didn’t stand out as obviously being effects.

Alan was a complex character that seemed conflicted about a few things related to his job, especially later in the movie. He didn’t really have a life outside of his work, but he was haunted by a memory from his past. He was very wrapped up in what he did. In a conversation he had with Fletcher, Alan compared cutters to sin eaters. Alan seemed to truly believe that his work helped people. He did look like he was upset by certain memories he saw. He kept the secrets of the dead. Alan knew things about people that were complete strangers that even the families of the people didn’t know. It did look like some of that knowledge was wearing him down. He was interested in Delila, but he didn’t seem to know how to have a normal relationship with her. Alan had done some questionable things during his life, especially once he found a connection to his past in one of Charles Bannister’s memories. Overall, Alan was a good person.

Alan was the main character in The Final Cut, so he was the most developed. There was still some mystery about him that kept him interesting. None of the other characters were in the movie as much or as developed. Delila did have feelings for Alan, but she was hesitant to get involved with him. She thought he was too wrapped up in his work and didn’t have time for anyone. She was concerned for him. She was a kind woman, but not too much was really shared about her. Thelma was another cutter that Alan knew. She had originally been hired to do the rememory for Charles Bannister, but she refused the job after she viewed some of the footage. Fletcher was a former cutter that now worked with a group that was against the implants. Something had happened in his life that explained why he changed his feelings on implants, but much of him remained a mystery. Jennifer Bannister and her daughter Isabel were only in a few scenes, so they were relatively flat characters.

Robin Williams was very good as Alan. He is probably best known for his funnier performances, but he is very good in more serious roles as well. Williams was very believable as Alan. He didn’t go over the top with the performances. I think this was one of his best performances. The Final Cut is one of the more serious movies that he has been in, though it wasn’t as dark as Insomnia or One Hour Photo. Mira Sorvino was good as Delila in the scenes she had. Her character and Alan had a believable relationship even though there is an age difference. Mimi Kuzyk was fine in the few scenes she had as Thelma. Jim Caviezel didn’t have many scenes, but he gave a good performance as Fletcher. The rest of the cast was fine, though no one else really stood out.


Genevieve Buechner - Isabel Bannister
Jim Caviezel - Fletcher
Mimi Kuzyk - Thelma
Stephanie Romanov - Jennifer Bannister
Mira Sorvino - Delila
Michael St. John Smith - Charles Bannister
Robin Williams - Alan Hakman

Omar Naim - Writer/Director

The Final Cut was released in 2004. I don’t think the movie was in very many theaters. It is 105 minutes long and rated PG-13. There was a little bit of violence in some scenes, but the movie wasn’t that violent overall. I don’t think that children would be interested in the movie. It would probably be all right for older children to see if they were interested in the plot. Parents should really check out the movie first to make that decision. The movie is now available on VHS and DVD. I rented the DVD version.


The DVD for The Final Cut was set up like it was a DVD advertisement for the Zoe implant. Some of the menus had different information about the Zoe implant. The audio and video quality of the movie was very good. There are some special features on the DVD. The theatrical trailer for the movie, as well as trailers for two other movies are included. There is a Making of The Final Cut featurette that included brief interviews with some of the cast and crew. Omar Naim talked about different aspects of making the movie. A production design featurette talked about how the crew and director created the look of the movie. There was also a short featurette that talked about the special effects that were used in the movie. Another special feature showed the original storyboards and how they compared to the finished movie. Three deleted scenes were included. Of the those scenes did show that Alan and even Thelma felt conflicted about their jobs.

I expected The Final Cut to be an interesting movie, but I didn’t expect it to make me think like it did once it was over. The movie does raise several questions that weren’t fully explored, but it was very interesting and entertaining. The movie is definitely worth watching. People just need to remember that it isn’t as much of a thriller as the advertising made it out to be.

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Death to Smoochy ~ Insomnia ~ One Hour Photo ~ Robots ~ High Crimes ~ The Count of Monte Cristo ~

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