Tom Hanks Made Me Cry Over A Robot In Apple TV+’s ‘Finch’ – Review
Tom Hanks has done it again. With the help of director Miguel Sapochnik, the voice of Caleb Landry Jones, and a dog named Seamus—Tom Hanks made me cry. For a movie with only one human, Finch says plenty about the human experience.
Finch follows scientist Finch Weinberg (Tom Hanks) struggling to survive a post-apocalyptic world with his dog and two robots, Jeff (Caleb Landry Jones) and Dewey. While he is more advanced, Jeff is the youngest of the two robots, literally born yesterday. Finch created Jeff to help him and his dog survive, with the dog’s well-being programmed as top priority should it interfere with Finch’s (as it should be). Keeping the two alive, however, is much easier said than done. Especially when the earth’s ozone layer is destroyed.
For Finch’s sake and the story’s sake, Jeff’s a quick learner. The screenplay by Craig Luck and Ivor Powell has us learning about this ozone-less world as he learns about it. Jeff periodically asks the same seemingly simple question we’re wondering: why? Why are they alone? Why does the sun hurt them? Why did he create Jeff? Why is he so sad? Rather than answer him directly, Finch explains the abstract, human-specific concepts of climate change, greed, violence, anarchy, trust, and cowardice through simple storytelling about his past.
Being the literal child that he is, Jeff is ecstatic as he hears the words “once upon a time…” and learns about all the wonders of the world that used to be and what this world still holds. The crux is that Finch shares these stories on a need-to-know basis. So while we can connect the dots to see the bigger picture, Jeff can’t. This blameless ignorance heightens the stakes and makes him all that more relatable.
Oddly enough, the robot is easily the heart of the story. This is only made possible by Jones’s mechanic yet emphatic voice and Hanks’s evergreen ability to sell and make us feel what his character feels. Their performances are further bolstered by Sapochnik’s smart directing and the steady writing of Luck and Powell. Add the dog to the mix and you have an unsuspecting, yet perfect trio.
The casual and trusting relationship Finch has with the dog is a given and even goes beyond man’s best friend; they’re the only ones that are actually alive and actively in danger without an ozone layer. This starkly contrasts with how both he and the dog are often wary and frustrated with Jeff, who has no real understanding of emotion and danger. This aptly represents the dynamic among man, animal, and machine.
Finch focuses more on the characters rather than the world they’re stuck in, which might disappoint those looking for a sci-fi adventure. But the simplicity of the plot leaves so much room for the story’s much bigger heartfelt moments that easily define the movie.
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