Streaming Review

Finch review – algorithmic end of the world thriller is hard to resist

Tom Hanks's natural charisma carries this familiar but rather likeable apocalyptic road movie about a man, his dog, and a robot

There’s something undeniably algorithmic about this sunny apocalyptic sci-fi thriller from director Miguel Sapochnik and co-writers Ivor Powell and Craig Luck, which charts a road trip between a dog, a robot, and Tom Hanks in a world ravished by UV rays. But its familiar programming is also what draws you in. After all, who can resist such an assemblage of tried and tested elements, and with Hanks at the helm?

Finch is set in the not-too-distant future after most of the planet has succumbed to radiation poisoning from a broken Ozone layer. Finch Weinberg (Hanks, with more of a pep in his step than you’d expect for a movie set at humanity’s end) is an inventor facing his own mortality following years of exposure. As his home threatens to be destroyed by an oncoming storm, his only concern is for his dog, Goodyear, so naturally he invents a robot – played by Caleb Landry Jones, and who names himself “Jeff” – to look after the adorable mutt once he’s gone.

The film, taking the form of a road movie, is sickly sweet and sentimental, complete with repeated shots of a cute dog turning its head at the camera. There are very few new ideas in Finch, which often feels like a throwback to 80s robot movies and is not ashamed to coast on the star power of its leading man, who of course perfected the solo movie before with Cast Away and here reaffirms his position as “America's Dad” – even after America is gone. And Jones is fine at bringing Jeff to life, who starts out as insufferable but whose gradual humanisation eventually wins us over.

This is certainly the cosiest apocalypse movie in memory, but there is a noticeable lack of tension in the film’s second half when it seems to run out of steam and replay many of the same beats. By design, there are no other humans in the film, though maybe it could have used a couple. Still, there are very few serious end of the world movies quite so breezy: in this lone regard, at least, Finch feels original.

Finch is now streaming on Apple TV+.

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