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Case Number 02246: Small Claims Court

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Lionsgate // 2001 // 112 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Barrie Maxwell (Retired) // September 27th, 2002

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All Rise...

The Charge

"You know…you could help me get out and I could make a run for it."
"Where would you run?"

The Case

There are science fiction films that are special effects-laden duds, such as Armageddon; there are science fiction films that are special effects-laden space operas that excite, such as the best of the Star Wars films; there are science fiction films that combine a sense of wonder with confusion, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey; there are science fiction films that act as metaphors for an era, such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers; there are science fiction films that are interesting exercises in human behaviour, such as Starman. And then there are science fiction films that are uninteresting character studies, such as Final.

Final is a story about a man named Bill who awakens in what proves to be a psychiatric hospital, unsure of where exactly he is or why. His therapist is a woman named Ann. With Ann's help, Bill tries to make sense of an existence in which he has a mixture of memories about being a musician, a truck crash, hospital stays, being frozen cryogenically, and lethal injections. Which things are reality and which delusion, and what does it all mean for Bill's future?

All this might have made for a decent episode of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits had it been filmed 35 or 40 years ago. But that was then and this is now, so Final makes its way to us as a bloated, pretentious almost-two-hours-long feature film. Even worse, the two main characters are so poorly acted that the two hours seem like an eternity. Denis Leary, who plays Bill with mainly two facial expressions—bland or furrowed brow—probably should confine his rather modest talents to stand-up comedy or whatever it is he's known for. It's certainly not dramatic acting, if Final is any indication. Hope Davis, who plays Ann, also seems to have two facial expressions—bored and really bored. It's not clear whether they reflect her reaction to the script or to Leary's acting.

Director Campbell Scott, who has a sizable acting filmography, fails to follow up on the promise of 1996's Big Night, which he co-directed with Stanley Tucci. Instead of capitalizing on the slight shred of interest that there might be about the truth of Bill's situation, he fails to develop any sense of suspense in the film. Camera angles are prosaic rather than inventive. I'm usually not impressed by directors who draw attention to themselves, but in this case I would have made an exception for anything that would have brought this turkey to life.

The DVD is from Lions Gate Home Entertainment, whose 1.78:1 anamorphic presentation is fairly uninspiring. Everything seems somehow flat and lacking in vibrancy. That may have been the intention by choosing to shoot in digital video originally, and if that's the case, the DVD replicates it well. The audio is an unremarkable Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix and English and Spanish subtitles are provided. The only supplements are promotional trailers for four Lions Gate DVD releases (Final, Monster's Ball, The Rules of Attraction, and American Psycho 2) that for some unknown reason Lions Gate chooses to hide under its logo on the main menu page.

Definitely not recommended.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 40

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 112 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Bad
• Science Fiction

Distinguishing Marks

• Hidden Promotional Trailers for Four Lions Gate DVD Releases


• IMDb

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