Miguel Sapochnik’s film basically employs a formula from almost every post-apocalyptic flick before it but when you have an actor like Tom Hanks making you forget that, then it’s a pointer to how powerful his performance is.
Finch has just two human actors for the entirety of the runtime; Tom Hanks (who stars as the titular character) and Caleb Landry Jones as Jeff, the robot created by the protagonist.
The hero is an aging man who in a bid to make sure that his loyal dog is catered to when he is gone, creates a humanoid robot and begins to teach him what it’s like to be human.
Whoever brought in Tom Hanks for this film made a really wise choice as they knew that only an actor with real star power would get the needed attention for this kind of project.
On his part, Hanks is no stranger to featuring in movies of this sort; his award-winning turn in Cast Away comes to mind. Whereas he battled the elements while shipwrecked on a remote island in that movie, here he chooses to be on his own, favouring the company of his canine companion over his fellow humans.
As has been mentioned earlier, the setting is a post-apocalyptic future where solar flares have laid waste to what was once a teeming population of humans. The few left are forced to scrounge as they avoid the blistering heat of the sun due to the destruction of the ozone layer.
In this abysmal, dry, hot world is Finch, a science genius whose mistrust of others has made him wary of every possible survivor.
When his health begins to deteriorate at an alarming rate, the protagonist decides that he has little time left and all he can think about is his dog’s survival when his time is up.
Living in an unforgiving world is a daunting experience and Finch has been shaped into the hard man he has become. But as he feels the end coming, his humanity begins to shine through.
Hanks’ acting is unquestionably convincing as always. His character isn’t a nice guy longing for company as a result of isolation. He is efficient, calculating and he will do almost anything to get by.
My biggest fear was that I was going to get bored watching an old guy struggle to keep my attention. What I got was a character so believable and relatable, one who made me become so attached to him and everything going on till the film’s end.
The arrival of the robot creates a whole new dynamic in Finch’s little world; his dog can’t seem to trust the newcomer and he begins to have misgivings when he realizes that he may not even have enough time to imbibe the lessons he ought to in the machine.
Despite the brutal atmosphere depicted here, there is a beauty to the emptiness, an aesthetic appeal to the brutal climate.
If there is one thing the director knows how to do is to present scenes in memorable shots and camera angles. (what else do you expect from the same person who crafted some of the best battle scenes in Game of Thrones?) Everything just works so well.
As the humanoid robot, Caleb Landry Jones is a breath of fresh air. He brings the much-needed comic relief and his naivety is a sharp contrast to the hero’s experience. The vocal delivery is pitch-perfect (especially at the beginning when he learns to communicate with his master).
And the canine star Goodyear (yep, that’s the dog’s name) is also a worthy performer whose non-verbal communication with his owner is more than enough to fill in the viewer on the bond between the two.
In a lot of ways, Finch is more than just a sci-fi drama about a dying man, his dog, and his robot. It’s about man’s acceptance of the inevitability of death. In portraying this part that we must all face, Tom Hanks leaves no stone unturned and the end result is as touching as it is heartbreaking.
The score in the film switches between haunting, dramatic, adventurous, and humorous. It never feels out of place in this aesthetically appealing production.
For me, Finch is a great movie, one of the year’s best, and I would also add that Hanks is still at the top of his game.
Good one, Miguel Sapochnik. You created a good one.