By Paul Hall
When events lead the world as we know it to be decimated and reduced to a pile of rubble, one man works harder than ever to create something positive in the newly desolate surroundings in which he exists. To some, all would be lost and purpose obliterated, but in the new film Finch, we realize that a brain that is still on fire with knowledge can lead to unimaginable ingenuity.
Finch Weinberg (Tom Hanks) is living a life of solitude. Scavenging for what scraps may still exist in a world that has faced both natural and human devastation, Finch is working hard to survive despite his current situation. That situation includes extreme heat, radiation and a lack of food at every turn. But as we meet Finch, we realize he is being driven by something.
By his side is his faithful dog Goodyear and a small rolling robot named Dewey he has constructed to help in recovering anything that may be of use for survival. The robot is akin to Wall-E in the Disney animated film of the same name. Dewey helps with transport and navigation in the harsh surroundings.
Finch is also working on a second robot. This project is filled with artificial intelligence and a bit of Finch’s own ingenuity. He has hopes that this creation can help care for both himself and Goodyear without limitations. As it comes to life, the robot takes the name of Jeff (voice of Caleb Landy Jones) and is a creation who is immediately learning and filled with the grit and initiative of the man who created the robot from scavenged parts.
Together, Finch, Goodyear, Jeff and Dewey set off for San Francisco to avoid an incoming weather situation, and it is on this road trip that life, albeit changed, is examined and reevaluated, and the dynamic of family (no matter who or what is involved) is explored.
One thing we know from Hanks’ role in Cast Away, he can carry a one-man effort onscreen, and Finch is no exception. For nearly two hours I found myself enamored by his portrayal of a man who is so amazingly driven to succeed in his objectives in the face of adversity. In a world where so many crave human interaction at every turn, Hanks’ portrayal of a man who has the ultimate mixed feelings on humanity is truly mesmerizing.
As more details are revealed in the film about Finch’s personal situations and the events that occurred to create the environment he is living in, it makes your heart just break, and the emotions bubble to the surface. That bit of storytelling is far more effective than just dumping all the knowledge of the background circumstances at once, and it makes for the gripping slow burn of the film.
There are plenty of connection points with Finch. This is a solid mix of self-discovery, sci-fi, post-apocalyptic road movie and inspirational look at tomorrow, and it makes the time with Finch, Jeff and Goodyear something worth remembering.
Paul’s Grade: B
Stars: Tom Hanks, Caleb Landry Jones, Seamus the dog
Director: Miguel Sapochnik