Movie Review: Finch

Teens D.C.

Movie Review: Finch

Finch, Nicky Gionis writes, is a movie that says "no matter how harsh the setting, your worst enemy is always humankind."

written by Nicky Gionis, Teen Council employee at Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Library 

Finch is a newly released film on Apple TV+ that is unique in that there is just one leading human role. It follows an old, dying man named Finch Weinberg (played by Tom Hanks) in a post-apocalyptic setting. He builds a robot to take care of his dog after he dies. Finch creates his robot, later named Jeff, but almost immediately has to abandon his base in St. Louis because of a mega-storm rapidly heading in his direction. He decides to go to San Francisco for reasons that are at first a little unclear. Throughout the journey, Jeff the robot goes through the different stages of maturity over the course of several days as Finch teaches him about surviving. This is represented by his speech patterns, which start slow and robotic but develop into something more natural and human.

Finch excels at visual storytelling and worldbuilding as you learn more about this destroyed planet as the story goes on. The setting is very mysterious at the beginning and you never know what crazy, apocalyptic obstacle will be thrown at Finch next. But as the story continues, exposition is subtly dropped through stories Finch tells throughout the film. The audience pieces together the background of this world themselves by listening to quick lines of dialogue. Finch explores what it takes to survive in such a harsh environment where the sunlight burns and  massive dust storms are all too common. It shows the new way of life and things that are now commonplace such as UV suits and store looting for survival. Despite this grand, intense setting, the movie doesn’t dwell much on the how and why as the background isn’t super important to the story. It instead focuses on the relatively small journey of a man, his dog, and his robot trying to survive in such a harsh environment and travel halfway across the country.

A major theme of Finch is trust. It talks about this a lot as it is the reason for all of Finch’s past victories and defeats. He believes that trust is what gets you killed and that he’s only survived this long because he’s trusted no one. Throughout the movie however, he learns to trust Jeff with what’s most important to him, his dog. The movie also goes into the idea that many in the post-apocalyptic genre have discussed before, that no matter how harsh the setting, your worst enemy is always humankind. Tom Hanks is the only human fully shown in this film. Other humans were either in brief flashbacks or dehumanized by never showing their face and portraying them more as a predatory beast to avoid. Finch’s trust issues and this dehumanization of other men evokes a sense of loneliness in the movie which gradually fades as Jeff becomes more human-like. 

Overall, Finch is certainly worth a watch if you have Apple TV. It’s a fresh take on what many consider to be a tired genre and accomplishes a lot despite the miniscule cast. It is heartwarming yet it deals with dark topics and you truly feel for the characters. The film has a PG-13 rating and has language, some violence, and dark themes that may not be suitable for young children. It is surprisingly tame despite its setting however, and never shows much violence on screen. While being original and fresh enough to enjoy, I don’t know if it will be able to stand the test of time. Because of its relatively quiet release and only being available on Apple TV, Finch may fade into obscurity within a few years. It’s a good film, but it may not be memorable enough to maintain relevance in the future. Despite this, it is still worth a watch if you’re looking for a tragic yet heartwarming tale in a fascinating, post-apocalyptic setting.

You can watch these similar movies or books by placing a hold at your library:

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Book)

Cast Away (Movie)

I Am Legend (Movie)

WALL-E (Movie)