review by KJ Doughton, 28 December 2001
"You were found next to a
1953 Ford, hypothermic, unconscious, at a quarry by a cliff,"
says an iceberg of a psychiatrist (Hope Davis) to confused mental
patient Bill (Denis Leary), as he is jarred awake from a lengthy
sleep. Bill’s mind is awash in flashbacks: visions of an admiring
fiancée, a dying father, and a bout of booze-swilling behind the
wheel of his pickup are all dancing in his scrambled noggin.
Meanwhile, he blathers on about being frozen and groomed for some
kind of cryogenic government experiment that will culminate in his
death via lethal injection. Is Bill a delusional, psychotic nutcase,
or is he really onto something? Such is the setup of Final,
a movie that sounds like a futuristic thriller but plays out more
like My Dinner with Nurse Ratched.
With Leary in the lead role, one
might expect the film’s undercurrent of sarcastic humor, revealed
in a scene where Davis’ bloodless professional leaves Bill’s
dreary cell after a tense therapy session and he responds, "See
you later – I’ll be down by the pool!" One might also
expect the typically overbearing Leary to be a scenery-chewing live
wire in this role, clawing at his cell walls like a caged animal.
Refreshingly, Leary is relatively controlled as Bill, who comes off
a more sedate Kyle Reese, the future-born, misunderstood hero of The
Terminator. He appears to be delusional, convinced that 400
years have passed since he was put into deep freeze by the
government. Ann, however, tells him otherwise. "You’re a ward
of the state of Connecticut," she insists. "If you don’t
cooperate, you’ll be here indefinitely.
What follows is a series of
confrontations between the distant, guarded Ann and the impulsive,
extroverted Bill, as he pieces together his jumbled fragments of
memory during the duo’s one-on-one therapy sessions. Is the guy
out to lunch, or does he have reason to fear an insidious plot and a
"final injection" to end his life?
This type of subject matter
typically lends itself to a suspense framework, as in Silence
of the Lambs, where the two-character quid pro quo sessions
offered a contrast to the violence and tension that drove that
classic thriller. But the way Scott presents it, Final’s
redundant, stiff, colorless meetings between Bill and Ann are staged
at such a leisurely pace that we’re waiting for someone to shut
them up and provide some real tension. As we wait, and wait…and wait
for Final’s denouement during a premise that’s more interesting
than its two ever-present characters, Scott continues to serve up
stagy, talky interactions until we really don’t care anymore.
was produced as part of The
inDigEnt Project, a digital filmmaking collective financed by The
Independent Film Channel. The project’s goal – to produce ten
feature films for under $100,000 each – was realized by Scott and
nine other filmmakers including Richard Linklater, whose celebrated Tape is a more successful example of inDigEnt’s resulting output.
The volatile emotions that permeated that three-character hotel room
exchange seemed better fit to this sparse, unpolished style of
filmmaking than the mind-bending, "What’s real and what’s
not" vibe that Final
R - Restricted.
Under 17 requires
parent or adult