Finch review – an understated understatement

By Marc Miller
Published: November 4, 2021 (Last updated: February 1, 2023)
Apple TV plus film Finch


Finch attempts to ride on the coattails of a winning formula that isn’t earned.

This review of the Apple TV+ film Finch does not contain spoilers.

Tom Hanks, the go-to Hollywood master thespian of working with canine actors and inanimate objects, makes any film of his an annual event in my household. You can have your Lassie’s, Benji’s, Marley’s, and the Homeward bound trio. Nothing surpasses a slobbery Dogue De Bordeaux biting down on the neck of Detective Scott Turner without breaking the skin. His new film involves an adorable pooch (is there any other kind?), a robot that spews out useless facts, and the curmudgeon, Finch, who makes Amos look jovial in comparison (that will be my last Turner & Hooch reference).

Finch has its moments. But to say it’s understated would be an understatement. Hanks is Finch, a brilliant engineer (he finally solved that old plot hole of how people obtain toilet paper in a disaster film) who has survived, to this point, a post-apocalyptic world. He doesn’t deal well with people, so this new earth is ideally suited for him. His trusted Irish Terrier mix, Goodyear, is his companion. His Wilson, if you will.

Finch, though, knows he is sick. So he creates a robot, who wants to be named William Shakespeare since Finch hooked him up to a computer and has presumably read every Wikipedia page ever created. He gives himself the name Jeff (The Outpost‘s Caleb Landry Jones). Jeff is a child. He’s innocent, curious, and somehow has feelings. This doesn’t mesh well with Finch’s toxicity. It doesn’t matter. He was created to follow one rule — protect Goodyear. This is soon tested since a storm is on its way that will last 40 days. With limited supplies, they gather their things and leave in a solar-powered Winnebago to find shelter and food until that storm passes. It’s Wikipedia Away.

Finch is strangely underwhelming, considering the special effects that are put into the thing. The first sixty minutes flounder, with a few enjoyable moments, brought out by Jones’s Jeff. However, the problem is those are evened out by Finch, with a strange amount of toxicity. Was this acceptable a couple of decades ago? Sure. So was binge drinking and emotional abuse.

The point is that this is a father-son story at its core and coated in special effects in a post-apocalyptic world. In a typical story with these themes, Finch would apologize, but his character never does here. It’s abusive, no matter the circumstances. Frankly, it’s off-putting. You can argue that he created Jeff to protect his “real son,” the Irish Terrier, but how does that make it better? Tough love? Maybe. However, its telling moments come across as convoluted.

There isn’t more to the story here. You can’t write a story that has a robot who has feelings, treat them poorly, use them, and pretend it’s a heartwarming experience. This is how we teach young people about “love, friendship, and the meaning of human life”?

Finch attempts to ride on the coattails of a winning formula that isn’t earned.

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