Finch (2021) ☆☆1/2(2.5/4): Man, Dog, and Robot

“Finch”, which was released on Apple TV+ in last week, has some good elements to engage us but does not bring enough freshness or creativity to its familiar genre territories. As your typical post-apocalyptic tale, it surely has all the bleak and stark stuffs to decorate the screen, and it is supported well by the convincing duo performance at its center, but you will not be surprised much by what happens along its predictable road movie plot.

At the beginning, the movie promptly puts us into its grim and perilous background surrounding its isolated hero. Several years ago, the Earth happened to be hit by a massive solar flare which scorched the whole planet, and the planet was turned into a very harsh place due to the following extreme climate change. Because of the absence of the ozone layer in its atmosphere, the planet is constantly exposed to lots of solar ultraviolet besides becoming quite hot during daytime, and there are also massive sandstorms frequently occurring here and there on its vast wastelands.

As a result, not only the human civilization but also the whole ecosystem of the Earth were almost wiped out, but Finch Weinberg (Tom Hanks), a middle-aged robotics engineer living in St. Louis in Missouri, has managed survive alone in an abandoned laboratory of some company for which he worked before the catastrophe happened. When he needs something for a dog which has been his only organic companion, we see him searching around in the city while wearing his protection suit, and we come to gather that this is not his first attempt of scavenging for anything valuable.

And we also get to know what Finch has been working on during last several years. He has been developing an artificial intelligence robot alone by himself, and, though he has to depend a lot on various spare parts including the certain one borrowed from his other robot, it looks like he is finally reaching to the breakthrough he has yearned for a long time. Once it can recognize Finch in addition to being able to communicate with him, his new robot begins to learn more bit by bit, and Finch is certainly delighted to say the least.

However, there comes a big trouble approaching toward Finch’s residence and its surrounding area. It turns out that three sandstorms will merge together in the area and then become a big giant sandstorm which will probably wipe out all the area, and that means Finch must evacuate within 24 hours for saving himself as well as his dog and robots. Although he cannot be sure about where he should go, he decides to leave for San Francisco, which has been a personal special place even though he has never been there throughout his whole life.

As Finch drives his modified recreational vehicle along the road to San Francisco, his dog and his new robot often lighten up the mood a bit in each own way. While his dog reminds him of why he should keep going on as before, his new robot gradually becomes somebody to depend on despite its innocent clumsiness, and Finch, who becomes quite concerned about his dog after noticing his serious health problem, already made sure that his new robot will protect his dog above all else, via giving it one additional imperative besides those famous three imperatives for robots conceived by Isaac Asimov.

As these main three characters roll along the road to San Francisco, the movie naturally doles out one episodic moment after another. There is an intense scene involved with an unexpected appearance of tornado, and that took me back to when I was amused and thrilled by the similar moments in “Twister” (1996). In case of a small poignant scene between Finch and his dog at an empty diner, and that shows more of how much he cares about his dog, and we are not so surprised when Finch tells more about his dog to his new robot later in the story.

However, the screenplay by Craig Luck and Ivor Powell subsequently becomes rather flat during its second half as beginning to lose its narrative momentum. Director Miguel Spochnick, who recently won an Emmy for HBO TV drama series “Game of Thrones”, did a competent job of making various bleak landscapes look real and vivid on the screen, but that does not compensate much for the lackluster arrival point for the story and its main characters.

At least, the two main performers of the movie did their best for carrying the movie together, and they remind us again of each own considerable talent and presence. While he is virtually doing something not so far from his Oscar-nominated performance in Robert Zemeckis’ 2000 film “Cast Away” (Incidentally, Zemeckis serves as one of the executive producers of the movie), Tom Hanks demonstrates again that he is a dependable star actor, and Caleb Landry Jones, who has been one of the most promising new talents to watch since his notable supporting performance in “Get Out” (2017) and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2017), is alternatively amusing and touching in his voice performance. In addition, the special mention goes to the dog playing Finch’s dog, which holds its small place well between Hanks and Jones throughout the film.

On the whole, “Finch” is a fairly well-made genre piece, but it will not impress you that much if you are, like me, a seasoned movie audience who has seen countless SF movies about robots. Sure, I came to like and care about its robot character more than expected, but the story is not fresh enough to distinguish itself, and I am afraid that the movie will be soon forgotten as swept by the continuing waves of new online movies to come.

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