Friday, November 05, 2021

Finch, on Apple TV+

In the not too distant future, next Sunday A.D. There was a man named Finch Weinberg, not so different from you and me. To keep his sanity, he built some robot friends, but they never got to riff on any cheesy movies, even though Jeff, his newest invention, shares similar coloring with Crow T. Robot. Instead, they are preoccupied with survival—that of Finch and his dog Goodyear—in Miguel Sapochnik’s post-apocalyptic Finch, which premieres today on Apple TV+.

The world is pretty much over and only a few survivors like Weinberg remain holed up in their hiding places. In his soul-scarring experience, nobody works together anymore. Weinberg’s scientific background has served him well, allowing him to hole-up in a power plant he manages to keep in limited operation. Unfortunately, his health is deteriorating, so he created Jeff to help him care for Goodyear. His service drone Dewey just does not have sufficient functionality.

Not long after he is powered up, Jeff helps Weinberg detect an incoming mega-storm. They must flee the entire Midwest region, so Weinberg decides to head towards San Francisco, for sentimental reasons, even though he has never left St. Louis before. Thus begins a road trip across the desolate wasteland ravaged by the vague cosmic disaster that is never fully spelled out. For Jeff there will be growing pains, but even crusty Weinberg will learn late life lessons too.

Craig Luck & Ivor Powell’s screenplay definitely leans into sentimentality, but the ever-reliable Tom Hanks bails out the film’s more indulgent moments with his haunted and world-weary performance as Weinberg. The comparisons with
Castaway are obvious, but we come to understand he retreated to his own island long before Armageddon came crashing down. It is a smartly calibrated performance and Hanks truly looks gaunt and grizzled—you almost have to wonder if he shot the film while he was recovering from Covid.

The “Jeff” robot design has a fair amount of personality and the robotic puppetry is terrific. Caleb Landry Jones’ voiceover work sounds like a na├»ve teenager speaking through a voice-modulator, which was surely the idea. Yet, he is still a robot, so you would think he would be somewhat less rash and impulsive. Regardless, Seamus is a very good dog playing Goodyear, yes he is.

There is a clockwork predictability to
Finch, but Hanks elevates the familiar elements with his deeply resonant awards-reel moments. In some ways, it parallels John Hillcoat’s adaptation of The Road (trading the son for a dog), but it is not as relentlessly bleak. It also looks great, thanks to some striking images of wide-open landscapes and blighted urban graveyards, beautifully lensed by cinematographer Jo Willems. Recommended for fans of robot movies and light end-of-the-world science fiction, Finch starts streaming today (11/5) on Apple TV+.