'Finch' review: Tom Hanks anchors formulaic post apocalyptic tearjerker
Courtesy of Apple TV+
Tom Hanks finds himself deserted with nothing but an animated robot and an adorable canine to keep him company in “Finch,” an endearing weepie about a man’s immeasurable relationship with his cute pup named Goodyear. Director Miguel Sapochnik won’t get credit for originality, but it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Hanks, who is basically America’s dad, anchoring the emotional beats and stoic tone of the film. Alongside him is Caleb Laundry Jones’ wonderful motion capture performance as the AI created to take care of Goodyear in the event of Finch’s death.
Written by Craig Luck and Ivor Powell, “Finch” is an assembly cut of several post-cataclysmic films from “The Road” to “Wall-E.” Of course, with an executive producing credit from Robert Zemeckis, it’ll face comparisons to Hanks’ iconic “Cast Away” where he was marooned with a volleyball named Wilson. Here he plays Finch Weinberg, a former robotics engineer motivated by Goodyear and a sentient robot named Jeff. In a genre dominated by lousy special effects and franchise driven madness, there’s something refreshing about a narrative revolving around an ailing scientist's quest to make sure his dog is cared for after he’s gone.
Though it won’t take a robotics engineer to figure the trajectory of “Finch,” things heat up when the trio hop in their fortified RV and hit the road for San Francisco after a major, tornado-filled, storm makes landfall near homebase in St. Louis. A spot Finch has holed up in for 10 years since the earth was ravished by scorching temperatures and massive spikes in UV radiation. Finch managed to survive thanks to a state-of-the-art UV suit he wore during supply runs in nearby towns, using a rover named Dewey to help with those hard to reach areas. Human survivors, though spoken about and seen in flashbacks, mostly go unseen. This is Hanks’ vehicle, which is enough to smooth over the film's formulaic tendencies, and the use of Don McLean’s “American Pie” feels apt.
The script doesn’t come with many stakes aside from Finch’s health issues, which is strange considering most apocalyptic dramas, big or small, eventually endure some face-to-face conflict. Here, the only “suspenseful” sequence is a car chase in the middle of the night that ends with a whimper. This is followed by an impassioned monologue where Finch details life (including a troubled relationship with his father) before the big collapse. It’s one of several touching moments where audiences get to witness Finch’s remorse and Hanks doesn’t strive for big and flashy, because he can elevate literally anything with a single gesture. It doesn’t hurt that “Finch” comes equipped with a cute pupper who’s beady eyes can help anyone look past all that is wrong in the world.
I’m a sucker for a good boy.
FINCH debuts on Apple TV+ Friday, November 5th.