“Finch” is a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi about doing everything you can to take care of those you love.
The film stars Tom Hanks as Finch, who builds an AI-learning robot (Caleb Landry Jones) to take care of Goodyear (Seamus), his dog, after he is gone.
The film is directed by Miguel Sapochnik (Game of Thrones) and is written by Craig Luck and Ivor Powell. The film features some epic “wasteland” shots of a dying world, including some realistic views of what the city of Denver would look like if it were the end of the world as we know it. The strength of the film, however, were Finch’s moments with his robot, Jeff, as he teaches him to care for his dog, Goodyear.
The earth has been ravaged by a solar flare that has rained down cosmic radiation on the ozone layer punching holes in it and causing surface temperatures to rise to around 140 °F, mere exposure to the sun now leaves painful first-degree sunburns. Finch is slowing dying of the radiation poisoning from the sun, but he animates a robot with AI-learning capabilities to take care of his dog upon his impending death.
As Finch teaches his robot how to take care of his dog, how to stay “alive,” and the new rules to live by, I couldn’t help but see the parallels of parenting, raising kids, and how you want to pass on your beliefs, your values, and what you found most important in this life to your loved ones that remain behind. From learning to walk to playing fetch with Goodyear, it is interesting to see how learning these basic skills are absorbed by a robot, but it also demands an introspective look on one’s own values in life.
It begs the question, “Why?”
Throughout the film it is actually the relationship between Goodyear and Jeff the robot, that is evolving and growing. The dog at first is completely afraid and wary of the robot. It is constantly growling and barking at it. At one point Jeff convinces himself that he taught himself “dog language” and imitates dog sounds he has heard (or learned), but that only leads to the conclusion that Goodyear hates him. Jeff has to learn of both Finch and Goodyear’s limitations with the hazardous environment they live in. He has to learn what they need and how to help them.
The most important and difficult concept that Jeff has to learn is trust. Goodyear needs to trust Jeff if he wants to be able to protect the dog. Trust is not something easily explained, but rather it is a concept one knows by experience.
Ultimately, Tom Hanks puts in a typical stellar performance. There are some humorous moments. There are also some touching moments to reflect on the “human experience.” In the bigger picture, the film asks the question, “What is it we are passing on, and how will we do that.”
The film is currently streaming free on AppleTV+ and playing in theaters on a limited release.