Tom Hanks, in Finch, speaks about the human experience. Through the example of the Golden Gate Bridge, he expresses that one can count the number of rivets, the length of the cable, and the bridge’s height. But to understand the beauty of human creation, you have to stand on the bridge and feel it. That’s a human experience. It’s a beautiful expression because many artists and audiences believe that cinema, as an art form, is all about grand extravaganza. But it is not. In an effortless and straightforward way, all art can be defined as a creation that stimulates emotions. A painter can use the most vibrant colors, a writer can pen down the best of his vocabulary, or a musician can play the costliest of instruments, but if his/her art fails to move a person, is it art at all?
Directed by Miguel Sapochnik, Finch is a science fiction film that depicts a post-apocalyptic human world. The surface has become unsuitable for human habitation due to increased temperature and radiation caused by the depletion of the ozone layer. An ailing tech inventor lives amid the chaos, scavenging leftover canned food for himself and his dog, Goodyear. But Finch Weinberg (Tom Hanks) knows that he is slowly dying and can’t leave his dog alone. Will he be able to leave a guardian behind?
The film begins with Finch Weinberg dressed in his UV protection suit, who enters a ruined supermarket with his invented robot, Dewey. He finds a can of dog food and leaves the premises to hunt for more food. However, a weather forecast device alerts about an upcoming sandstorm and warns him to take immediate shelter.
Finch returns to his facility, Tae Space Technology research lab, in St. Louis. He worked at Tae as a tech inventor before the solar flare hit the Earth and destroyed the precious ozone layer. He quickly washes Dewey and feeds Goodyear. However, he fails to gather any food for himself due to the storm and thus decides to skip the meal. He quickly attends to his next tech invention, a robot, who will take care of Goodyear after his death.
Finch transfers data from precious books to the droid to make it more humane and finally finishes his invention. However, before he can cherish his giant leap, he discovers an upcoming storm. The new droid informs Finch that the approaching storm is a collection of 15 separate weather events that will hit the Tae facility in 24 hours. The phenomenon will last for forty days.
Looking at his food storage, Finch panics and decides to leave the facility. He embarks on a road journey and heads west to San Francisco. Before dying, he wants to see the Golden Gate Bridge. In his RV, he leaves St. Louis with Goodyear, Dewey, and the new droid, Jeff. But will Finch be able to survive 1800 miles with heavy radiation and other perils on the way?
Why did Finch want to see the Golden Gate Bridge?
Finch told a story to the new droid, Jeff. He narrated that his father was an engineer in the army who built bridges. He left Finch’s mother before he was born. Finch never had any contact with his father until, on his 15th birthday, he sent Finch a postcard of the Golden Gate Bridge. His father expressed his desire to meet Finch one day.
Finch cherished the postcard and decided to visit the Golden Gate Bridge to meet his estranged father. He even bought a white suit to impress his old man. But he never took the step, he never moved out of Missouri, and he got mixed up with health, life, and everything in between. Then a solar flare struck the Earth, making the journey seem impossible. When Finch realized that his days were numbered, he finally decided to stand on the Golden Gate Bridge and feel how it felt. Maybe standing on the same bridge on which his father once stood would give him the same human experience. But Finch never made it to the bridge, alive. But his creation did.
Why did Finch want Jeff to look after Goodyear after his death?
Before Jeff arrived, Finch was a cynical man who didn’t believe in associations. He had his reasons to hate humans. He recited a story to Jeff and told him about his life-changing experience after the solar flare hit the ozone layer. Once, he was searching a supermarket, where he found a pack of noodles. He was about to leave when a mother and her 9-year-old daughter showed up. The little girl held a gun in her hand, and Finch feared that she would shoot him and take his noodles. In fear, Finch hid and waited for them to leave.
Suddenly, a station wagon pulled up, and in a frenzy, the man with a shotgun killed the mother and her daughter to steal their food. After their death, Finch felt like a coward who couldn’t forgive himself. He approached their dead bodies and heard a tiny whimpering sound coming from the girl’s backpack. It was when he met Goodyear.
Taking Goodyear under his wing felt like an act of redemption for Finch, who felt guilty for not saving the little girl and her mother. Hence, inventing the robot for Goodyear was his atonement. Like Spielberg’s Schindler’s List quote, “One who saves one life saves the entire world.”
‘Finch’ Ending, Explained
Finch taught Jeff all about human experiences and emotions during the journey through his “once upon a time” tales. Jeff’s resilience and dedication moved Finch and made him realize the importance of companionship. However, the lesson came with a cost. Dewey, the robot, got caught in a trap and lost “his” life on the journey.
As the RV reached the San Francisco border, the weather forecast device reported a non-critical level of radiation. Our ozone layer tends to heal itself, and even the real world has witnessed the natural phenomenon. Probably, after the devastating effect of the solar flare, the ozone hole above San Francisco was healing itself. Finch came out of the RV and finally embraced the healthy sun rays. As the RV moved ahead, the camera captured beautiful butterflies and vegetation growing back on the mountains. It was the silver lining Finch had been looking for, but he knew he wouldn’t survive long to re-cherish nature’s beauty.
Finch got dressed in the white suit which he bought to impress his father. Jeff, Finch, and Goodyear camped near the mountains, and with the setting sun, Finch said the final goodbye.
Before leaving, Finch helped Jeff and Goodyear to build trust between each other and spark an unshakable bond. Finch died in his cabin in the RV, and Jeff cremated his body.
In the end, Jeff, grieving over Finch’s death, lost his way, but Goodyear made him realize his purpose in life. To save the ones who needed saving. Jeff drove the RV and took Goodyear to the Golden Gate Bridge to fulfill Finch’s last wish. In the end, Jeff and Goodyear walked on the bridge and looked at the sea while remembering Finch’s words about the human experience. On the bridge, Jeff discovered other polaroids and postcards and thus decided to find the ones still out there. He left Finch’s father’s postcard on the bridge and scribbled himself, Goodyear and Finch on it to leave a memory behind. Finch, in his journey, taught a robot to feel and dream and to narrate stories. It might be a small step for man, but it was a giant leap for Finch Weinberg.
Finch is a 2021 Science Fiction film directed by Miguel Sapochnik. It stars Tom Hanks in a post-apocalyptic world.