‘…there’s plenty of charm to spare in this robotic Odd Couple…’

Landing somewhere between Castaway and The Martian, Miguel Sapochnik’s apocalyptic sci-fi road movie lands on Apple TV as something of a coup; Tom Hanks remains something of a national and international treasure, a well-loved actor whose films are still big news. While Finch is somewhat derivative and familiar, with elements of A Boy and His Dog, WALLE and Silent Running to boot, it’s also slick, enjoyable, and just about earns its right to be sentimental.

Global warming has destroyed the ozone layer, and the Earth is a desolate shadow of itself. One of the few survivors is Finch (Hanks), who is slowly raiding some St Louis supermarkets for the last few cans of edible material, and searching for dog-food for his canine companion. Finch also has a robot dog, and constructs a robotic companion too. Eventually taking the name Jeff, and voiced by Caleb Landry Jones, Jeff functions like a son to Finch, and we soon find out why his construction is necessary; Finch knows that he is going to die soon, and is hoping to train Jeff to take responsibility for his pal. Dust storms, off-screen assailants and other issues get in the way of the trio’s trek to San Francisco Bridge, with life-lessons learned and a sense of their hard-scrabble life revealed.

Finch isn’t altogether satisfying in conveying the central situation; it’s never quite explained how Finch survived where others didn’t, not is it clear who else is around; it’s suggested that the depletion of resources turned mankind against itself, which is topical enough, but striking details like the graffiti-covered hospital they visit are suggestive rather than sharp. But it’s hard to argue that Finch doesn’t work on some level; Jeff is a quite remarkably empathetic creation, begging for campfire stories, knees trembling with anticipations, or shoulders hunched over the steering wheel on the vehicle that he erratically drives. Jeff is a great special effect, and provides a great foil for Hanks’ stoic performance, which offers the same external growth than his largely wordless turn in Castaway.

It’s not hard to see why Apple TV+ would go for Finch as a property to acquire; it feels like an advert, at times, for how technology can help us on a physical and emotional level, together with some finger-wagging about the state we’ve allowed the environment to get into. The conclusion may be a little pat, but while Hanks and Jeff are bickering their way through the desert of America, there’s plenty of charm to spare in this robotic Odd Couple.


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  1. Must be so frustrating for reviewers. Pre-streaming you could be sure that virtually any movie you reviewed was widely and easily accessible. Most cities had an arthouse for specialist pictures. All films had a second and often more lucrative life on dvd, cable etc. Now you are stuck with reviewing pictures that lots of people will never see. I’m not going to subscribe to every streamer on the off chance of occasionally seeing a good picture. The Tom Hanks name would have been enough to drag me out to a cinema for Finch but not enough to get me to take out new subs to a streamer – Greyhound passed me for the same reason. The big actors are cashing in now – Denzel Washington etc getting huge bucks for a flop – but that will soon change. In a few years once the dust has settled I can’t see stars getting huge payouts for films that end up on streaming.

    • Totally. You can release a $200 million picture right now, and hardly anyone knows. It’s very hard to imagine large groups of the population seeing something on Apple TV+, but as long as they get a fee to balance the books, the studios dodn’t care right now. But they will care as more and more people just accept the junk that’s on the streaming service they happen to pay for, and lose the viewing habit to social media immersion. Cinema hangs in the balance right now, but it looks worryingly as if only the strongest IP will survice, and trying new ideas is simply a waste of time.

        • Everyone does. But Hanks doesn’t have much to prove anymore, seems a little strange for him to repeat himself…

          • Maybe he was feeling nostalgic for Wilson but couldn’t get enough backing to film Castaway 2?
            Or maybe Finch is just a long dream sequence from within Castaway.

            Or maybe…..
            I’m just blowing smoke because I’m tired and it’s only Monday 😀

              • Oh you poor thing. You sound exhausted.
                Here, have my seat. Can I get you a drink? Something small to eat to get the gastric juices flowing? I recommend today’s special, a small pepperoni pizza. It’s only been dropped in the swamp once, so you know you’re getting all your essential vitamins and minerals.

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