Post-apocalyptic road movies aren’t supposed to give you the warm and fuzzies, but chuck your celluloid uncle Tom Hanks into the mix and what do you expect? Here he stars as the eponymous Finch, one of the last human survivors after an unspecified solar event has left the Earth largely uninhabited.
Our inventor hero has survived by holing up in his bunker, making only the occasional foray outside to forage for tinned goods at long-since-abandoned supermarkets. But in his bunker, he’s joined by his dog Goodyear, who is the beating heart and panting tongue at the core of this lo-fi sci-fi adventure. Finch has been tinkering away on a robot that he hopes will serve as a mechanical dogsitter when the time comes that he can no longer take care of the mutt himself.
The robot is identifiably played by Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out), readily distinguishable beneath the motion-capture CGI and raspy electronic voice filter. He’s shown the ropes of human interactions and mutt care during a road trip that the trio undertake in a last-ditch effort to find any other remaining survivors.
While the three-hander premise and confined environments almost sound like opportunities to keep the budget down, Finch doesn’t feel scrappy. The scorched vistas are convincingly realized, and Tom Meyer’s production design feels believably cobbled together: this is sci-fi without the sheen.
The robot VFX are impressively weighty and present: Jeff, as he comes to be known, feels like a more self-effacing version of Rogue One’s K2SO. With a minimum of expression, the ungainly bot’s naivety slowly wins you over, one clank at a time. Goodyear is similarly underplayed, with a restrained performance by canine thesp Seamus; director Miguel Sapochnik (Game of Thrones) trusts in the doggo’s inherent warmth, and the lovely relationship he shares with Finch, without going in for any overt anthropomorphizing or suffocating cuteness.
True, the film doesn't go to particularly surprising places; the route carved out by the trio’s dusty RV never takes any hard left swerves, and the story’s final destination isn’t difficult to predict. But it’s certainly agreeable to be a passenger on a journey pitched somewhere between Cast Away and Mad Max: Fury Road, with a little Chappie somewhere in the mix. With a jaunty soundtrack that further softens the portent, Finch is proof that sci-fi dystopias needn’t be totally bleak.
Finch is out now on Apple TV Plus. For more, check out the most exciting upcoming movies heading our way.