Finch leads us to the end of the world … again. But this familiar journey across the post-apocalypse continueshas two unique outlets: Tom Hanks and robots.
Originally titled BIOS, Finch was intended to appear in late 2020. Purchased by Apple and renamed to a less ambiguously pronounced name, Finch streams on Apple TV Plus tomorrow, Friday, November 5th.
The film opens with a familiar arrangement. The world is over and a seemingly lone survivor (the titular Finch, played by Hanks) robs a shop, labels it with a spray and goes back to his base where we see the hardscrabble life he is carving for himself. It’s something you’ve seen before in every post-apocalyptic drama from I Am Legend Upto Wall-E.
The film takes on something of its own texture as Hanks jumps into a giant dump truck and storms down the street cracking cars, though that cheerfully muscular tone doesn’t last. Soft-spoken, wobbly and gray-haired, Hanks is in Cast Away mode as a gentle engineer keeping himself busy with a library of books in a safe silo.
Directed by Emmy-winning Game of Thrones director Miguel Sapochnik, Finch is a visual delight thanks to a combination of extensive visuals and clever CGI effects. But it’s also a pretty intimate story that would feel more at home on the streaming screen even if a pandemic disruption didn’t push it out of a possible theatrical release.
When a superstorm threatens Finch’s modest underground life, however, the film ignites its second selling point. Comparisons with Wall-E not only come from its configuration in the exploded landscape of a ruined Earth. No, Finch also has beautiful droids that Hanks builds to help navigate life in this world destroyed by solar flare. These creations culminate in a human-shaped bot named Jeff, designed to join Hanks on a final voyage.
The thin, baggy robot has an orange dome for a face but bags of personality. An impressive digital creation, Jeff is brought to life in a moving performance by Caleb Landry Jones, an actor best known for starring in strange characters in films like Get Out and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. Jones ’performance and the magic of the visual effects team invest Jeff with a charmingly evil disposition, making an engaging vagabond companion for Hank doing his grumbling but lavish piece. Jeff is up there with other personality-infused robots in similar films like Netflix’s catchy thriller I Am Mother or the melancholy 70s sci-fi classic Silent Running (referenced here in the name of one of Hanks’ robots) .
With a dog and child robot piling up in a 1984 Fleetwood RV Southwind recreational vehicle, the film hits the road with an almost independent comedy-drama sensibility. There is an inherent danger in the situation, but the film downplays the threat. The hostile environment is reminiscentbut without zombies or mutant bike gangs in pursuit, Finch often feels more like Little Miss Sunshine meets Short Circuit.
It also starts with Hanks shouting American Pie and actually drops Road to Nowhere from Talking Heads when the characters are, wait for it, on the road. At its worst, Finch goes into muddy sentimental territory with unfocused emotional revelations and vague life lessons. However, it is a charming distraction even if it travels through fairly well-known territory. Tom Hanks and robots, you can’t go wrong.
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