Finch, originally titled BIOS, is a post-apocalytpic film that was supposed to be released last year and is finally able on Apple TV+. The film is about a dying man (the title character Finch played byTom Hanks) in a barren world, who builds a robot to care for his dog after he dies.
Several years earlier in Finch, the Earth was devastated by a solar flare that shredded the ozone layer and blanketed the world with deadly ultraviolet radiation that killed most life. Finch Weinberg is a lonely robotics engineer in an abandoned and dust-covered St. Louis. He ventures out into the world with his UV suit just to scrounch for food and supplies for himself and his dog Goodyear (played by Seamus the dog). His only other companion is a small robot called Duey that has limited capabilities. Finch has a terminal illness (it’s not made clear in the film but it could be radiation poisoning or cancer) and wants Goodyear protected, so he builds an anthropomorphic robot that he names Jeff (Caleb Landry Jones).
Finch is not able to fully program Jeff because a devastating storm is approaching St. Louis that will last for weeks. The scientist already planned to move to the west coast of North America and so decides to head out early in his recreational vehicle with Goodyear and his two robots, even though Finch is not fully programmed. This means that as they set out on their road trip, Finch has to teach Jeff how to care for his dog and survive after he is gone. During their trip, the two grow a friendly bond as Jeff learns about humanity and experiencing life, while Finch has to trust that the robot will carry out his task. This is difficult for Finch because during his ordeal as a survivor he lost faith in others.
Directed by Miguel Sapochnik and written by Craig Luck and Ivor Powell, Finch is heartwarming film, though it does not have a deep plot. It has many aspects of post-apocalyptic and survival films like WALL-E and even Hanks’ own Cast Away. Still, the film knows just how to tug at the viewer’s heart and there are many moments in the film that require a box of tissues. One instance is the moment when Finch recalls how he came to adopt Goodyear, which led him to find a measure of atonement, culminating in the creation of Jeff.. The film has many beautiful and reflective moments of experiencing the simple joys in life that are buttressed by gorgeous cinematography by Jo Willems.
The dog Goodyear is not some kind of super smart animal with quirky personality traits that is seen in many dog-centric films and it’s clear to see how much Finch is attached to the animal. Be that as it may, being that the driving force is that Jeff must learn to care for Goodyear, the dog is not the main character. Those are Finch and Jeff. The robot is not fully developed emotionally and has an inquisitive nature that is humorous but never annoying, At the same time, this defect is a liability that could endanger his biological companions. However, Jeff has noble intentions and takes initiatives throughout the film that earns his creator’s trust and allows him to grow into the caretaker he was meant to be. The role was well performed and captured as the robot seems realistic thanks to his clumsy nature and a clunky look, which is how a cobbled-together robot would appear.
Of course, the main draw of the film is Tom Hanks, who proves once again why he is such a beloved acting icon. His heartfelt performance is the emotional core of the film. It is so easy to relate to Finch as Hanks injects a noble and gentle everyman demeanor. One cannot help but feel for him and his dog whenever he starts coughing blood or just see them playing a simple game of catch. Throughout the film Hanks delivers a quiet and thoughtful performance that helps keep the film grounded and endearing.
Some will argue that Finch may be emotionally manipulative and simplistic and that is a valid point. Given the film’s premise it can be easy to predict how the film will end up. However, in the end it works as it is easy to get emotionally invested in the characters and wonder what will come next for them. Just as important, despite its pathos, Finch never feels sentimental or cloy.
It is a bit of a shame Finch can only be seen on Apple TV+ since not many people have that streaming app. The film deserves to be seen in wider venues such as full theatrical releases and the powers that be should have waited a bit longer to do so. Hopefully, Finch may find an audience later on in additional venues because it is one of the better genre films for the year.