Casting the iconic Tom Hanks as the only human in a film feels like it's been done before...and that's because it has, back in 2000 with the film "Cast Away." That film found Hanks stranded and all alone on a deserted island, with inanimate friend Wilson the Volleyball his only companion.
In "Finch," Hanks finds himself alone again, this time on a deserted planet following some deadly solar flares that he happened to survive, and instead of talking to a volleyball this time around, he has a trusty dog - and an intelligent robot - at his side.
The comparisons to "Cast Away" are inevitable, but "Finch" is far less a complete film. It doesn't really land any of the lofty ideals it raises, and it's so slight that even though we're at world's end, the stakes never seem too high.
Hanks is "Finch," the last man standing after a planetary apocalypse. He was an inventor in his previous life before all hell broke loose, so he spends his days tinkering away in a warehouse of which he calls home. He does have a dog at his side, Goodyear, but Jeff the Robot (voiced and motion-captured by actor Caleb Landry Jones) soon joins the crew once Finch figures out how to breathe life into him. He first teaches Jeff to stand and walk, and then tries to teach him other virtues of life. Terrible storms still rage across the countryside, so Finch, Goodyear and Jeff all have to set out into the bleak unknown to try to see if they can make it to some kind of safer haven.
Finch appears to be very ill, so we learn that this robot was not created so much for companionship, but to be able to survive in this new world and hopefully take care of Goodyear long after Finch is gone. We get the usual "innocent robot-as-baby" tropes and Hanks does a remarkable job of making his interactions with his co-stars believable. In fact, if Hanks wasn't one of the best working actors, "Finch" could have been much worse.
But there isn't much more to it than that. Bad dialogue and manipulative situations befall Finch and company, with much of it landing squarely on the nose. We all know, for example, that a dog is "man's" best friend, so the ultimate sign that Jeff has achieved human-level would be for the dog to buddy up to him. Hmm, I wonder if he ever will.
"Finch" has good intentions but nothing resonates. There is a flatness to it all, and an inability to connect to the material in the same way that Finch connects with his new robot pal. What was the actual point here? If we're looking for a story about human perseverance - even one starring Tom Hanks - there are far better places to look, and "Finch" definitely feels like it's been left behind.
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi.
Run Time: 1 hour 55 minutes.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Caleb Landry Jones.
Directed by Miguel Sapochnik ("Repo Men").
"Finch" is on Apple TV+ beginning Friday, November 5th, 2021.
Looking for a specific movie or review?