The Final Cut is about subjectivity, memory and history; posing the question, "If history is what is written and remembered, then what happens when memories are edited and rewritten?" The topic is similarly dealt with in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, wherein the protagonist works for the "Ministry of Truth", a bureacracy charged with re-writing history so as to reflect the current stance of Big Brother.
Hakman brings his lover Delila into his apartment, and leaves her alone with his Guillotine. When he returns he puts bullets in his firearm under the belief that Fletcher and his associate have broken into his apartment to steal the Bannister footage. Instead, he finds Delila poring over the full Zoe footage of her late boyfriend. Hakman apparently uses the footage to learn about her dreams and interests, so he can please her better. Delila becomes angry that her private memory with her boyfriend is used in such a manner, and shoots the Guillotine, the bullet hits the Bannister card destroying its footage.
Hakman and his colleagues break into the EYE Tech headquarters to locate Hunt's Zoe footage as a second source, and although he does not find Hunt's footage, because the two names begin with the letter 'H' he discovers a file under his own name. He realizes that he himself has a Zoe implant, violating the cutter's code that no cutter may have one. He immediately undergoes the first stage of a specialized tattooing procedure to end the implant's ability to record audio, he has to wait a week later to get a second tattoo that will remove video. Hakman then requests that his colleagues perform a dangerous procedure to biopsy the Zoe footage from his own brain, so he can obtain closure on Hunt's death. On viewing the footage, which is much more accurate than his own recollection, he discovers that Louis survived the childhood fall, and what he mistook for blood was actually spilled paint.
When Fletcher and his associate finally break in to steal the Bannister footage, they find out it was destroyed. Hakman lies to Bannister's wife that a technical fault destroyed it. Hakman visits Louis' grave, and is joined by Fletcher, who has discovered through the tattoo parlour that Hakman has an implant and that it recorded the critical images from the Bannister footage. Foregoing the biopsy procedure, Fletcher and co. chase Hakman through the graveyard filled with video tombstones, and his associate then shoots Hakman in the back, killing him. The film closes with Fletcher cutting images of Hakman's editing of the Bannister footage, promising that Hakman's life will mean something.
In the last shot of the movie, Alan Hakman looks at himself in a mirror through his own eyes. But when he looks away and runs off, the camera keeps watching the empty mirror instead of watching what he sees.