REVIEW: ‘Finch’ Builds A Heartwarming Tale Out Of Post-Apocalyptic Tropes

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Finch-But Why Tho

Finch is an Apple TV+ Original Film directed by Miguel Sapochnik and written by Craig Luck & Ivor Powell. Years in the future, a massive solar flare destroyed the ozone layer and led to the downfall of civilization. Robotics engineer Finch Weinberg (Tom Hanks) is constructing a humanoid robot to look after his dog Goodyear. When a superstorm threatens to destroy the robotics lab where Finch has made his home, Finch hits the open road alongside Goodyear and the robot, which calls itself Jeff (Caleb Landry Jones).

Finch was originally developed at Universal under the title BIOS before being sold to Apple TV+ following a round of COVID-related delays. Ironically, another Hanks-led film Greyhound underwent the same fate. The difference between the two is that while Greyhound trod the well-worn path that most war movies often do, Finch is willing to subvert a number of tropes viewers might have about the post-apocalyptic subgenre of film. Most films in this subgenre often follow three edicts; a massive disaster has laid civilization to rest, humanity is fighting for survival, and the road to a better tomorrow often rests on the protagonist’s shoulders. While the film does take place in a sun-baked world, we don’t encounter many humans apart from Finch (except in a flashback, but more on that later) and he’s not trying to save the world-he’s trying to teach Jeff how to take care of his dog. The influence of Robert Zemeckis, who acts as an executive producer on the film and previously directed Hanks in Cast Away, can be felt here.

Hanks gave a career-best performance that doubled as a one-man show in Cast Away, and he repeats the trick to great effect here. He plays Finch as a fatherly, yet guarded, figure who responds to Jeff’s antics with either exasperation or genuine surprise. Yet he’s also shown to care deeply for Goodyear, and throughout conversations with Jeff more about his life is revealed, including why he’s so hesitant to form bonds with other people. And adding a somber tone to the proceedings, Finch often doubles over from a coughing fit that leaves blood dripping down his mouth-a stark reminder that his days are numbered. Though audiences might guess the film’s inevitable ending, it’s all about the journey, not the destination. Hanks makes that journey worthwhile.

He’s helped in that regard by Jones, who brings Jeff to life via motion-capture and voice work. Jeff’s design is essentially a fusion of WALL-E and Rogue One‘s K-2SO; he moves with a lumbering gait and his head often tilts to focus on Finch and Goodyear. Jones essentially plays Jeff as a big kid; due to an earlier-than-expected departure, Jeff’s hardware isn’t fully booted up and he slowly learns to grasp things like metaphors and simple tasks. An example comes early in the film when Finch and Jeff go scavenging for supplies; when Finch tells Jeff “The ozone layer is Swiss cheese” the robot’s head swivels up as if he actually expects to see slices of cheese in the sky. Jones has been a solid presence in genre fare, including X-Men: First Class and Get Out, but this is definitely his standout role for me; his electronically chirping voice as Jeff infuses the robot with a sweetness that will no doubt endear him to viewers.

Sapochnik, best known for his work on Game of Thrones, brings a world to life that is equal parts terrifying and beautiful. The opening film takes place in a massive sandstorm, with buildings and cars buried under piles of sand as the wind picks up speed. Later scenes feature Finch’s solar-powered RV cruising down abandoned highways, with cinematographer Jo Willems capturing the bolts of lightning streaking through a rainy night and the sun glinting off the Golden Gate Bridge, which is the trio’s ultimate destination. Finch tells Jeff at one point in the film that people are contradictory, and I think Sapochnik does a great job of reflecting that in the film’s environment; the terror of a superstorm gives way to an oasis where the sun is a warm light rather than a skin-scorching hazard.

Finch is a surprising subversion of the post-apocalyptic genre and a film that tugs on the heartstrings thanks to Tom Hanks and Caleb Landry Jones’ performances. Its arrival only continues to solidify Apple TV+ as one of the strongest contenders in the streaming business, and if you’re a fan of Hanks’ work or looking for something to check out this weekend you can’t go wrong with this one.

Finch will be available to stream on Apple TV+ on November 5, 2021.


Finch
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TL;DR

Finch is a surprising subversion of the post-apocalyptic genre and a film that tugs on the heartstrings thanks to Tom Hanks and Caleb Landry Jones’ performances. Its arrival only continues to solidify Apple TV+ as one of the strongest contenders in the streaming business, and if you’re a fan of Hanks’ work or looking for something to check out this weekend you can’t go wrong with this one.