Tom Hanks seems to have found a home at AppleTV+, delivering another big film for home screens with 2021’s FINCH. A post-apocalyptic tale of one of the very few human survivors on Earth, Hanks proves he can play off a dog and a robot just as well as he did against Wilson in “Castaway”.
Like that film, he’s nearly the only human on screen for the entire running time.
Finch is a scientist, and perhaps a loner even before he had a choice in the matter.
We watch as he explores a dusty, storm ravaged America for canned food of any variety and dog food for his trusty sidekick Goodyear.
His health is failing in that stereotypical “cough-a-lot and start choking up blood in a handkerchief” way that always portends impending death in the movies.
Knowing his time is short, Finch is on a quest to build an AI capable robot to take care of his dog when he’s gone. Before you can say, “gee this movie is starting to remind me of Bruce Dern running around by himself on that giant greenhouse spaceship in “Silent Running”, his robot is finished and showing signs of learning.
The robot is childlike in its movements, but Herman Munster like in stature, creating some enjoyable moments as he discovers things in the world around him.
Faster than you can say “wait a minute, this kind of reminds me of ‘Wall-E’, how many movies is this thing ripping off?”, the robot has named himself Jeff, starts acting like a teenager wanting to drive and pouting when he doesn’t get his way.
I loved the four prime directives that Finch teaches the robot, they are straight out of Issac Asimov, the author that introduced me to sci-fi as a teenager. I devoured Asimov’s books.
Caleb Landry Jones (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri) brings a gentle, childlike spirit to Jeff in a motion capture performance that really grows on you.
No one pulls off a role like Finch with the sheer power that Hanks shows here. He makes it look easy, but it’s hard to deny he throws the whole damn movie on his back and walks off with it. As Hanks ages, he’s really falling into that old school, Jimmy Stewart American Hero movie star and it suits him well.
The special effects team spent plenty of Apple’s money and there are some great storm sequences, highlighted by the sound effects team using every channel of your Dolby Atmos system.
Never very original, but consistently entertaining, FINCH is a pleasant sci-fi diversion that wisps away like one of the giant earth-shattering storms that fade as quickly as they approach.
FINCH gets a B-, thanks to Hanks’ one-man star power.