Finch Movie Review
Take Cast Away, put it in a Mad Max setting, sprinkle in some I, Robot and a small dose of Turner & Hooch and you may come close to the pitch that turned the new Apple TV+ film Finch into reality.
What the pitch likely didn’t reveal was that the movie also has an unhealthy injection of Jar-Jar Binks.
The hook, of course, is that super-lovable Tom Hanks is the only human on screen for the vast majority of the film (the whole film? I started to tune out in the second half, so it’s a bit murky). And though Hanks spends his time chatting to his robot pal, he’s especially running solo—it’s basically Cast Away without the dramatic or emotional heft.
Hanks is frankly sort of obnoxious in Finch; I don’t want to say bad, as he is clearly playing a very specific variation of his Tom Hanks nice guy role—one who has spent a long time alone trying to stay out of the deadly hot sun—but he’s not exactly the kind of Tom Hanks character you really care whether he lives or dies. So by that standard... yes, he's not good here.
But really, the issue is that as the sole human protagonist, he is given very little to do other than scold and teach his child-like robot friend. There isn’t much plot or conflict to be found in Finch. There’s the looming threat of death from the climate at hand, but Finch isn’t committed to being a “survive the elements” kind of thriller. It definitely dabbles with being family friendly, but post apocalypse isn’t a great setting to draw the kids in for a pleasant Friday night viewing eating popcorn and sucking on Jolly Ranchers, because most families who sit down for family movie night eat popcorn and suck on Jolly Ranchers. Finch gets lost in its own wasteland, uncertain of what wants to be. It’s too lighthearted to be taken seriously, but too serious to be fun.
The other matter is that the robot is fucking annoying. Armed with the stereotypical robot voice you’ve heard before and that in the year 2021 we have clearly moved well beyond in the real world, the robot is an obnoxious idiot that deserves “death” early on. I nearly turned the movie off multiple times in the first 45 minutes due to its grating voice and mannerisms (voiced by Caleb Landry Jones), until I opted to just mentally check out for the remainder of the film. He truly is on the Jar-Jar Binks level of unpleasant.
Finch may appeal to some, but this is the type of unnecessary picture that rips off basic elements from other, better films and attempts to mash them together into what is ultimately an unsatisfying experience. The movie clearly only exists because Tom Hanks is the star, but he simply isn’t good enough here to elevate the material to anything worth recommending.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.