If you ever doubted that Tom Hanks isn't the finest actor of this generation, this Apple TV+ film helps rectify that.
I won't lie, I had my reservations about Finch going in. This science-fiction tale that takes place in a near future where civilization has ground to ruins due to the crushing effects of a climatological disaster, follows Tom Hanks' character, the engineer Finch, as he builds a cognitive robot to care for his beloved dog once he has passed from a terminal illness. It's a movie plot that has already been explored in some capabilities, most prominently and recently in Chappie, and considering this a film that only stars Tom Hanks (there are a few other actors but their presence is incredibly minor), I had a prejudice that this would struggle to captivate. But alike that time when Matt Damon was stranded alone on Mars, making for a genuinely thrilling movie, Finch surprised me with its broad emotional depth and charm.
As I touched on, Tom Hanks is essentially the only actor appearing in this movie. Caleb Landry Jones plays the adorable and inquisitive robot Jeff, but it's Hanks who physically appears in the movie. Because of this, the emotional weight of the film is thrust upon the shoulders of Hanks for the most part, which he effortlessly delivers a masterclass performance in. Regardless of the fact that Hanks spends the entire film conversing with robots and a dog, you feel a genuine connection between Hanks' Finch and his inhuman crew.
Throughout the duration of the movie, Finch spends his time teaching Jeff how to live and care for the dog in this incredibly hostile world. This means both navigating all kinds of natural threats, such as enormous storms and dangerous UV radiation thanks to the failing ozone layer, as well as the threats of the surviving humans as they grapple for any remaining resources. The robot, Jeff has a 'born yesterday' mentality, and is thrown into this hostile world with a sense of curiosity, which more often than not leads Finch and Co. into all kinds of problems on their journey west across the United States, in the hopes of finding a more hospitable land.
Despite the fact that Jeff doesn't have typical facial features, the animating team and the voicing talents of Landry Jones do a fantastic job of bringing this character to life. Jeff is caring, charismatic, and charming, and even manages to steal the show from Hanks at times. And moreover, there are plenty of occasions where you empathise with Jeff - despite his metallic skeleton - especially when he is struggling with earning the trust of Finch's dog Goodyear, and accepting the fact that only shortly after being switched on, he will have to bury his dying creator.
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While action scenes in Finch are rather short and sparse, this film is crammed to the brim with emotion and drama. The director, Miguel Sapochnik has done a fantastic job at creating atmosphere without requiring the talents of a lengthy crew of stars. One of the scenes that has stayed with me involved a car chase where the viewer never actually knows the identity of the chasing assailant, yet you fear for Finch, Jeff and Goodyear as they panic and struggle to flee this seemingly deadly adversary.
The narrative itself is also told in such a way that it approaches a lot of the blaring questions throughout the film's duration. Who is Finch? How did Goodyear come into Finch's life? How did the world end up the way it is? Each issue is approached at some point and told in a gripping and usually quite emotional or harrowing manner.
Finch is genuinely a moving and engaging film that will stick with you after the credits roll. It's an emotionally complex drama that once again reaffirms that Tom Hanks may just be the greatest acting talent of this generation. The plot synopsis of Finch claims the movie to tell a story of "life, love, friendship, and what it means to be human" and from my experience, I can soundly say that it has checked all of the boxes in this regard and more, and I hope to see Jeff continue his journey in the future.