ST. LOUIS — What is it that makes us feel alive? Is it just a pulse or heartbeat, or the ability to connect with another species? The timeless question is explored in "Finch," a heartwarming buddy film that is easy on the eyes and mind.
Tom Hanks is Finch, one of the last souls left on Earth after an attack on the ozone layer destroys human life as we know it, leaving a very dangerous Ultraviolet radiation in the atmosphere. Taking place in the near-future, Finch travels everywhere with his trustworthy dog, Goodyear, and a small robot that helps him search for important items in abandoned convenience stores. But he's also working on something bigger and greater: a human-sized robot (voiced by Caleb Landry Jones with motion capture work) who can take care of his dog after he is gone.
"Finch" doesn't carry too many surprises, but it does boost another great performance from its star. Hanks can find pearls in the simplest of line readings, a gift that he has showcased for over four decades. It's his ingenuity and grace that powers Miguel Sapochnik's movie, one that quickly turns into a road trip buddy film. Sometimes, actors try to do too much with a role like this and it can ruin the impact of the movie. Hanks just rolls with his natural instincts here as a star and high-caliber performer, making the mundane seem magical.
I liked the fact that Craig Luck and Ivor Powell's script doesn't toss too many curveballs at us or try to proclaim something profound, instead relying on endearing plot development and its trio of stars to carry the show. Jones' work as the self-named Jeff, the robot who grows increasingly closer to Finch, shouldn't be passed over. The talented actor who blazed a trail in Rod Lurie's "The Outpost" last year brings the robotic sidekick to vivid life, finding humor and connection without having to overplay the role. It's not just the words of Jones but his movements and actions too.
"Finch" is a movie packed with tiny moments that register, like Hanks teaching his new friend how to walk or drive the mobile home the group is traveling in. The movie does carry similar themes as last year's "Midnight Sky," but on a less dreary and more upbeat level. This may be the most uplifting movie that was ever set in a post-apocalyptic world, and that should help it become a glorious revisit in the years to come.
Look, any movie with Hanks and a dog is an automatic hit--and "Finch" proves that in spades. Throw in a robot, an RV, a random Blues jersey (it's explained later in the film), and you have prime entertainment for St. Louis residents. There's power in the subtle moments of a man teaching a robot how to be human, and the actors bring that out in just about every scene. It also extends itself to scenes of greater danger, like being exposed to radiation or extreme heat. The villain in this film isn't human at all; it's the UV rays that pose the biggest threat. But the film never feels too heavy or bogged down by it.
Hanks' gift for being able to be funny and then sincerely serious inside five minutes elevates Sapochnik's (well known for his work on "Game of Thrones" as well as "Banshee") movie, but it's the interactions between his "Finch" and Jones' Jeff that will have you smiling in the end.
Here's the thing. After finishing this film, I was happier than I was before it started. If you're wondering why Apple TV+ didn't promote it heavily or push it for awards is due to the fact that it's not very award-esque. "Finch" is about survival and connection, a pair of themes that ruminate forever in our current world.
I mean, if you said there was an end of the world adventure drama featuring only Hanks, a loving dog named after a tire, and a robot growing up over the running time... you had me at hello. But the emotional impact it makes was unexpected. The films that move you are often the ones that stick with you the longest.
If you need one movie to satisfy your cinematic needs this week, one can't go wrong with "Finch."