Review by Sean Boelman
After picking up the maritime war thriller Greyhound from Sony, Apple TV+ is at it again, releasing another abandoned once-theatrical blockbuster starring Tom Hanks, this time the sci-fi drama Finch. A serviceably cute film turned into something worthwhile by its strong performances, this is yet another Hanks venture that would have been a hit had it been released a decade ago.
The movie tells the story of one of the last survivors on Earth after the apocalypse as he builds a robot to protect his beloved dog upon his own eventual passing. For a “man and his dog” movie, it’s not bad, creating a world that feels lived in and hits its emotional beats with grace and ease, even if other post-apocalyptic films have done it better.
Of course, as with any post-apocalyptic movie, there’s the doom-and-gloom element of how modern society’s carelessness is causing the destruction of the world, but that isn’t the focus here. Instead, the film is about finding the humanity in everyone and everything, and this message is really beautiful and poignant.
The character development isn’t anything extraordinary, but it works for what it is. Watching the protagonist cope with his own mortality is compelling enough, but the portion of the movie that audiences seem more likely to latch onto is the story about this (effectively newborn) robot who is forced to grow up so quickly.
Hanks is great (as expected) in the lead role. It’s hard to find anything in his filmography in which he’s not giving a strong turn, although this also probably isn’t going to be one of the performances for which he is most remembered. That said, his unique brand of tenderness is what allows the film to shine. And in his motion capture performance, Caleb Landry Jones is exceptional, bringing a surprising level of emotion to a literally robotic character.
If there is one thing that the movie struggles with, it is its pacing. Writers Craig Luck and Ivor Powell can’t seem to decide whether this should take a more relaxed, character-driven pace or have lots of action, and so they switch back and forth between them. The film is at its most effective when it leans more into the former, as the latter sequences really only drag the main story to a halt.
Visually, the movie looks exactly as one would think for a studio-driven post-apocalyptic drama (it was previously going to be released by Universal). A mixture of CGI and practical backgrounds make this world feel adequately deserted, even if there isn’t really much of a flair to make it feel distinctive.
Finch succeeds for what it is — nothing more, nothing less. It’s an extremely watchable starring vehicle for Tom Hanks that probably would have been entirely forgettable if not for the talents of one of the last remaining true leading men.
Finch streams on Apple TV+ beginning November 5.