The latest big-budget flick to hit streaming service Apple TV+ is post-apocalyptic sci-fi Finch, marking Tom Hanks’ second leading performance on the streamer, following 2020 World War II thriller Greyhound.
Directed by Game of Thrones veteran Miguel Sapochnik, Finch centres on the titular engineer (Tom Hanks) who’s been surviving with his beloved dog Goodyear in a safe bunker, amongst his elaborate inventions – including the newly created robot Jeff (Caleb Landry Jones). A cataclysmic event, paired with the disastrous effects of global warming, has forever altered the ozone layer – as the outside world has become a dangerous environment to inhabit during the day. The human population has dwindled, and survivors are few and far between. With the news of an impending storm on the horizon, Finch must embark on a dangerous journey to find a new home for his family, whilst coming to terms with a heart wrenching diagnosis.
Despite only starring Hanks, an adorable dog and a robot, Finch is a hugely emotional, moving and often amusing tale, set against the backdrop of an apocalyptic road trip. While it doesn’t really break any new ground in the genre – there’s plenty of similarities to other robot-centric flicks like Short Circuit, Reel Steel and Bumblebee – Hanks, Jones and the adorable dog perfectly hit all of the emotional beats. It’s a simple premise, especially as Sapochnik isn’t too concerned with exploring the stakes of the post-apocalyptic setting – with only one truly tense night-time chase sequence – and yet the central performances and themes elevate this for a truly affecting watch.
The character-driven journey, with the beautiful dysfunctional family unit developing throughout, explores human experiences, what it means to be alive and the timely effects of climate change. Hanks is of course brilliant, particularly as he’s the only human onscreen driving the narrative, much like Castaway. His performance is incredibly engaging as the world weary engineer who’s slowly learning to trust again while finally accepting help. The developing dynamic between Hanks’ Finch and Jones’ impressively realised robot Jeff is often heartwarming, as Finch re-discovers the simple joys of life again through teaching the young and wide-eyed Jeff.
Caleb Landry Jones nearly steals the show with his brilliant vocal and motion-capture performance, truly breathing life into Jeff. The robot is so well meaning and good-hearted, often coming across as a young child constantly in awe at the world. He also proves the main comedic relief, particularly as he attempts to communicate with Goodyear and drive the RV for the first time by himself. The development in his vocals, from almost European as he first awakes, to more of an American accent as he spends more time interacting with Finch, is also a particularly impressive flourish. Jones’ performance really does make you empathise with Jeff, especially when Finch scolds him like a father does a son, resulting in one of the most impressive robots yet.
The cinematography from Jo Willems creates a beautifully coloured, but densely sparse, arid post-apocalyptic America – paired with Sapochnik’s wide angle shots of abandoned buildings and vast deserts, reinforcing Finch’s sense of isolation and the depleted state of the environment. The visual effects by Mill Film and Rising Sun Pictures are incredibly impressive, especially when it comes to bringing Jeff to life. The lighting and texture of the robot is wonderfully realised and positioned, particularly with the additions of the knocks and scrapes, revealing the metallics behind the robot’s paint. Kurt and Bart’s design for Finch’s day suit also adds to the authenticity of the environment and Finch’s position. From afar, the suit looks similar to something from The Martian, but if you look closer, you quickly realise the suit is made up of a collection of foraged items, expertly crafted together by the engineer.
With a heartfelt performance from Hanks and Jones, along with the adorable dog (particularly during a game of fetch), Finch is an emotional road trip which will soften the toughest heart.
Finch will be released on Apple TV+ this Friday, 5 November.