I really liked The Final Cut. It may not have enough excitement to appeal to some viewers, but it is intense in its own narrow, low-key fashion. The story takes place in a futuristic setting, but rookie writer/director Omar Naim doesn't approach the story from a what-if science fiction angle; this is really the story of one man's inner soul and how one significant memory can haunt you even as it is shaping your destiny.
The story is centered on a fascinating premise - that one's memories can be recorded and played back after the individual's death. The Zoe chip makes this possible; it's a synthetic implant that grows along with you as it records every single moment of your life. After your death, a sort of highlight reel of your most significant memories is put together and shown in a special Rememory service for all your family and friends to watch. Condensing someone's life into a couple of hours is a tough job, and it takes a talented professional cutter to do the job right. Alan Hackman (Williams) is one of the best cutters out there. He sees everything from each person's life, including some pretty awful stuff, but he gives the family the good memories they yearn for. There are plenty of protesters out there opposed to the Zoe chip, including one of Alan's old colleagues. Like leftist protest groups everywhere, these guys have no problem resorting to intimidation and violence - they only worry about the ethics of their opponents, not their own. Everything comes to a head when one of the bigshots behind the Zoe chip dies. Hackman has the job of cutting the Rememory, but the protestors want the data in order to pin something on the dead guy and bring down the company.
Hackman sees someone in the subject's memories that take him back to a memory that has haunted him his entire life. He rather desperately tries to find the individual and gain some kind of psychological closure for himself, throwing his monotonous life into turmoil and placing himself in great danger. It's a mission of self-discovery - and that only complicates matters.
The Final Cut showcases a great story - dark and personally claustrophobic, poignant, and always fascinating. Happy it isn't, nor is it conventional. It is serious, intelligent, and contemplative, raising all sorts of moral questions on both sides of the Rememory debate. By this point, we all know that Robin Williams is a master of drama as well as comedy, but it is still somewhat mesmerizing to see him carry this entire movie with his remarkably low-key persona. Some people may not like the dark cinematography and tone of the film, but I think they are great strengths that reinforce the artificial nature of the whole Rememory business. Hackman is basically unphased by all of the evil things he witnesses on his guillotine cutting machine, but you can only internalize so much without it exerting some kind of effect on you. The price he pays to do his job well is his increasing isolation from his fellow men. This character, not the Rememory technology, is the story here. As such, The Final Cut may not give everyone what he/she wants and expects from it, and I think that explains the mixed reviews.