Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Final Cut

Posted By on Wed, Oct 20, 2004 at 12:00 AM

How much longer will Robin Williams pay penance for Patch Adams? The latest in a string of dour, depressive, lithium-induced performances that began with 2002’s Insomnia and One Hour Photo, The Final Cut casts the former funnyman as Alan Hakman, a loner toiling away as a “cutter,” a kind of futuristic video editor who prepares super-deluxe funeral presentations for the privileged few with memory chips implanted in their brains.

The oh-not-so-subtly named Hakman sifts through days and weeks and years of footage, compiling only the kindest, tenderest moments from the lives of politicians, gangsters and CEOs — which in some cases apparently amounts to little more than montages of tooth-brushing and shaving. As for the more unsavory stuff — wife-beating, infidelity, incest — Hakman impassively taps the “delete” key. Only when a left-for-dead childhood acquaintance of his own pops up in someone’s footage does he set out to investigate the subject’s life, with dire consequences.

It’s a rather selfish conceit upon which to hang a story of redemption, and despite managing a few creepy/intriguing voyeur moments à la The Conversation, neophyte writer-director Omar Naim does little to convince us of his antihero’s need for absolution. Complicating matters is the ludicrously conceived anti-chip political movement and a beside-the-point, B-movie thriller subplot involving a fake-bearded Jim Caviezel and his painfully fey hit man.

The Final Cut scores points with its cool, wood grain-and-chrome production design, but mostly the film trudges along as a flat, humorless counterpoint to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or worse, a post-millennial remake of Brainstorm with a watery eyed Mira Sorvino standing in for Natalie Wood. All the while, the somnambulant Williams comes out of his shell so little, audiences might wish — if only for a moment — that he’d go back to the days of donning red rubber noses to cheer up cancer victims.

Showing at AMC Forum 30 (44681 Mound Rd., Sterling Heights), 810-254-5663, and AMC Livonia (19500 Haggerty Rd., Livonia), 734-542-9909.

Michael Hastings writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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