Finch seems to have gotten the moniker of “Post-Apocalyptic Cast Away,” but I think that undersells what Tom Hanks and director Miguel Sapochnik are doing in this movie. Yes, Hanks is the only human on screen for the vast majority of the movie, but he’s not emaciated or yelling, “WILSON!” at the top of his lungs. Instead, he’s attempting to head towards safety with only a dog and a robot to keep him company.
Sapochnik directed the 2010 film Repo Men, which garnered middling reviews at best, and which I haven’t seen, but he really made a name for himself by directing some of the most iconic episodes of Game of Thrones, including “Hardhome,” “Battle of the Bastards,” and “The Bells,” for better or worse. As someone who is writing this review looking at a figure of Jon Snow wearing his Battle of the Bastards gear, that was my only experience with him going into Finch. So I was expecting much more action, much more visible, dreadful trauma than the film delivered.
With Thrones, Sapochnik tended to focus on the grandiose. But with Finch, he focuses on the intimate. There is some interesting stuff that harkens back to giant fantasy battles (driving a fancy post-apocalyptic land rover thing away from a massive dust storm and the fact that standing in sunlight will literally burn your skin off immediately come to mind), but Hanks’ character, Finch (hey, that’s the name of the movie!), is a loner who’s lost everyone except his dog. We don’t know how, but he has. And now, the dog is all that he cares about, so he makes a fairly humanlike robot to take care of the dog for whenever he himself ultimately bites the dust. A terrible storm could strike at any instant, or sickness could overtake him, so he doesn’t care about stuff. He just wants to be sure his dog stays safe.
There’s some excess fluff in here — it could have been 100 minutes instead of 115 — but the non-fluff stuff works great! Yes, there are a million movies out there about what it means to be human and what our purpose is, but this one tackles it in a unique way. Finch was lacking a father figure his entire life, but now with this robot (who, might I add, is voiced by the always-great Caleb Landry Jones) and dog, he feels like he has the chance to be that sort of figure for someone else. No, they’re not people, but Finch is able to pass on what he’s learned throughout his life to two beings who will never be able to perceive or understand it in quite the same way that he has.
Mainly, he teaches the robot to go out and experience the world. Finch spent so much of his life looking at postcards and reading books that he never really got to find out what the world had to offer. It’s a theme that can resonate louder and louder these days thanks to quarantines and lockdowns past and present. And honestly, it’s one that never really resonated with me until the pandemic hit. But now that it has, its resonance is significant. And there’s a specific scene at the very end of Finch that hammers the ideas home in a meaningful way.
Finch won’t necessarily blow you away, as there are some parts that tend to drag and feel repetitive, but Hanks is always great, no matter what movie you put him in. Yes, even The Ladykillers. The movie is worth seeing for him and the existential exploration alone.