“A post-apocalyptic Tom Hanks film backed by Apple.” Boom! Finch is an easy sell as those words carry a lot of weight. But in practice, the concept sings more than the reality.
As we open up, we see an aging Hanks (he’ll live forever, right?) outrun a sandstorm as he scavenges grocery stores for food. He coughs, so we know that the Earth is in a bad place, environmentally, and he flips his badge that he wears around, so you know he’s a science-type. So far, so-so sci-fi action drama. While the emotional weight of Tom Hanks humming along to Don McLean’s American Pie is fully present; the sci-fi setting isn’t always wielded properly in Finch.
Hanks has a cool outdoor suit that’s kind of like something out of Fallout. There’s lots of sand, and of course, robots! He apologizes for hitting unmanned cars while listening to a classic rock tune. He’s Tom Hanks! Of course, we’ll be smiling during all this light post-apoc banter, even if we aren’t always enjoying it. Much of the cast was cut, and the rest appear in flashbacks. Hanks is channelling his Cast Away performance here, but decades later and in a completely different genre to boot, it has a different impact.
“While the emotional weight of Tom Hanks humming along to Don McLean’s American Pie is fully present; the sci-fi setting isn’t always wielded properly in Finch.”
That’s where Jeff comes in. Hanks’ character, the titular Finch, creates a little family involving a humanoid robot and a real dog (with the intent of having the former take care of the latter after Finch is gone). The film is mostly propelled by Hanks and Jeff’s relationship, and I have to say, it does work. It’s a lot of typical “oh this silly robot doesn’t understand human colloquialisms” material, but Hanks and Caleb Landry Jones (the voice of Jeff) sell it.
There are traces of something greater than a buddy drama, though. According to the director, there was an entire final act of the film that was cut, and that’s clearly evident. While I get the practicality of producing this story as a film (due to the involvement of Hanks), it would have been a pretty killer miniseries. I wanted to see more of the world and the impact of Finch’s choice to create a life. Finch is trying to sell us on this universe, but I’m only partially buying in.
While it doesn’t have to be explicit, seeing more interactions with humans, or why this Earth is the way it is would have informed the film in a positive way. There’s an air of mystery to leaving some aspects up in the air, but Finch is very content on telling, not showing, the audience why we should care about our hero’s situation. As a popcorn romp, Finch is a fun weekend watch. Sometimes, films don’t need to be more than that. But at the same time, it could have been a lot more. I don’t think this same cast and crew is going to get the chance to revisit Finch, which is a shame.