Meanwhile back in 2004, writer/director Omar Naim was wrestling with some substantial questions in his unappreciated sci-fi thriller. As the title suggests, film-making is a key element, but the vague futuristic setting allows Naim to play things out in an original if not entirely successful manner. A restrained Robin Williams plays Alan Hackford, a cutter, which is to say an expert in making movies from memories; the rich have an implanted chip which records POV from birth onwards, and for their funerals, Hackford presents their life story as a final cut, focusing on the good and editing out the bad.
The morality of such an arrangement is firmly under discussion here; Hackford suffers from guilt about a childhood incident that he believes makes him a murderer, and so is attuned to seeking the best of the memories he harvests. But his search through the memories of a wealthy businessman, recently deceased, raises Hackford’s awareness of a potentially incestuous relationship. Hackford finds himself under pressure, from a rival cutter (Jim Caviezel) and from his new girlfriend Delilia (Mira Sorvino), but confronted with the sins of the past, what is the right thing for a conscientious editor to do?
One confusing scene features Hackman sharing a series of mesmerising, abstract clips with Delilia; he explains that these surreal scenes may be dreams or hallucinations. This confuses because if this is possible, how can Hackford know for certain that the businessman’s memories are real or not? This aspect isn’t explored, and The Final Cut falls back on some familiar neo-noir elements; guns, show-downs and shoot-outs. But the central idea is good, and might have flown given more original handling with the visuals.
Ideally for a film about editing, the great Dede Allen handles the shears here, while the equally super Tak Fujimoto handles the cinematography. Williams manages to suggest Hackford’s inner turmoil; there’s elements of The Conversation here as well. The Final Cut doesn’t quite hang together or satisfy, but it does have an original sci-fi idea to mine in a Twilight Zone way. Lost in the post in terms of box-office, this might just pick up an audience on streaming.