This robot needs an upgrade.
The first word the newly-invented android says when his inventor Finch tells him to say something is “something.” I hate to break it to you buddy, but Uma Thurman beat you to it in “Pulp Fiction.” Or did was that line repeated before that movie or this one? Could be.
Anyway, the new Sci-Fi movie’s title “Finch” is named after Tom Hank’s character, who is probably the last human on Earth, which has suffered from a solar flare that made life sandy and uninhabitable. Lucky for Finch, he’s a scientist, who lives in the lab in St. Louis with his beloved dog, a motorized assistant named Dewey, running water and the equipment he needs to build his new talking friend.
I also hate to break it you, but movies like “Wall-E,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and “Ex Machina” have beaten you to the punch on these particular genres. Yes, you get some nice production values for the robot, an impressive visual look of a post-apocalyptic world, and likable Hanks performance, but you don’t have much to it. You have its coming-of-age story cliches like learning to walk and drive, and you also have some silly dialogue like when Finch tells the robot: “I know you were born yesterday, but you need to grow up.” And it eventually leads to a predictable payoff.
When he builds the robot (voiced by Caleb Landry Jones) with book copies downloaded in his chip, he warns Finch about a superstorm that will affect his area for 40 days. Their only hope is to head west, San Francisco to be exact. The robot wonders why they don’t travel at night, since it wouldn’t be as hot outside as it is in the daytime, but Finch says there maybe other survivors, and you know how they get before and after doomsday. How can you trust anyone?
And since William Shakespeare and Napoleon Bonaparte’s name are already taken, the robot names himself Jeff, because Finch wants his name to be short and simple. And Jeff is short and simple, as the robot agrees.
“Finch,” directed by Michael Sapochnik (“Repo Men”) and produced by Robert Zemeckis, would work because of its visual concept and Hanks does a good job at playing an aging man in a post-apocalyptic world. But a better recent movie in that genre, minus the robots, is “The Midnight Sky,” in which George Clooney knew how to guide himself as the only man on Earth to prevent the astronauts from returning home. “Finch” feels routine and standard without stepping up its game.
Jones, who was much better in “Get Out” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” sounds shaky as the robot, when there could have been more elaborate computer voices for it or maybe an actor with a little more humanity and depth. Yes, he’s supposed to sound like a robot made from scratch and some of his moments are a bit funny, but he is supposed to be examined and more heartfelt. And note how I used the word “he,” and not “it” to describe Jeff.
This movie was released on AppleTV+ like Hanks’ other film “Greyhound,” and both of them missed to mark on how the acclaimed actor can show audiences his different angles. They both didn’t work for me, and I’m one of the many, many, many people to admire Hanks.
Streaming on AppleTV+