'FINAL' FEELS MORE LIKE A ROUGH DRAFT
A scene from 'Final'
Courtesy Photo
"FINAL"
**1/2 stars 111 minutes | Unrated
NY/LA: Friday, December 28, 2001
Limited: Friday, January 18, 2002

Directed by Campbell Scott

Starring Denis Leary, Hope Davis, J.C. MacKenzie, Jim Gaffigan, Jim Hornyak



 COUCH CRITIQUE
   SMALL SCREEN SHRINKAGE: 0%
   LETTERBOX: COULDN'T HURT

Being something of a one-room digital video experiment focused on personalities not visuals, this movie may actually be a little better on the small screen. But it's more of a catch-it-on-cable than a rental.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 06.25.2002



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In logic-lacking low-budget puzzler, a mental patient is sure he's in the future and about to be executed

By Rob Blackwelder

An unmistakably shoestring digital video feature with the heart of a lesser "Twilight Zone" episode, "Final" is an uneven, low-impact brain teaser about a mental patient (Denis Leary) who is convinced he was cryogenically frozen in 1999 and is now a prisoner in the distant future, scheduled to die in a government experiment.

It's an enticing psychological talker, most of which takes place in Leary's sterile, near-empty ward as he and his outwardly compassionate doctor (Hope Davis) dodge and parry through a battle of wills over his vivid but incomplete delusions. Unstable and plagued by flashbacks of events surrounding a trauma the doc claims was only a few weeks ago, Leary is adamant in his belief that she's only there to brainwash him into giving his consent to be a guinea pig.

Both characters are a little bloodless, but converted comedian Leary gives a supple, straight-faced performance that holds the attention as he and Davis build a tentative trust between them that is tested when Leary tries to turn the tables on her, hoping she'll help him escape.

"Final" scratches the surface of Leary's psyche with warm but painful recollections of his girlfriend and his father -- both of whom died, if his memories serve him right. But the movie lacks a more comprehensive vitality. It plays more like a table reading or a filmed rehearsal that a final cut of a motion picture.

As a result, an ever-present potential for both greater depth and goosepimply plot developments goes largely unrealized. Trying to figure out if Leary is nuts or not should make for more stimulating viewing than it does. In fact, the only time "Final" fully engages the mind is when it begins to reveal the truth, at which point you can't help but see logical loopholes cropping up everywhere.




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