2001 Sci-Fi / Psyho Drama
STARRING : Dennis Leary, Hope Davis, Jim Gaffigan
WRITTEN by: Bruce McIntosh
DIRECTED by: Campbell Scott
Final provides a great movie-watching experience when considering it as an experiment - a self challenge by director and producer to film a compelling story on a shoestring budget, and an attempt to show what you can do with great performers to showcase what no special effects will.
Waking up in a hospital room (where most of the movie takes place), Bill Stark can't seem to decide if he's delusional, paranoid, or on his way to death row; he hears inexistent blues music, rants about having been cryogenically frozen, expects to be executed shortly, and gradually sifts through memories of the grim events that lead him to his current state. His only beacon towards sanity and truth is a mild-mannered and cryptic therapist, whose relation with her patient becomes too close for comfort, and slowly reveals that the insane man might not be so insane after all.
The one thing that works against the movie is what it tries to attain - showing that a no-budget film can effectively thread on Kafkaesque territory as well as science-fiction. Pacing and intensity would be better achieved if it restrained itself and kept things more mysterious, as the shift from one genre to the another two-thirds into the story feels like a let-down instead of a real dramatic twist.
It does however succeed in relying on a surprisingly rich and nuanced performance by bad boy Irish-American Dennis Leary, whose journey to the inevitable whisks the viewer along with great interest. Even more surprising is the improbable yet strong chemistry with his co-star Hope Davis, whose un-eccentricity of character plays wonderfully against Leary's supped-up testosterone. The two actors are all the more impressive when given limited locations, and absolutely no visual effects, as they manage to paint the world they live in with livid and tangible colors.
Definitely recommended for Leary fans to rediscover the man in a new light, and for aficionados of psychological, no F/X Sci-Fi the likes of "Cube" or "12 Monkeys".
Final score on the CC scale: 3.5 out of 5