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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Nov 14, 2021



TOM HANKS did two movies last year, “Greyhound” and “News of the World”, which we both enjoyed. This year, he has “Finch”, a futuristic film about a dystopian world where he plays the title role. 

The film opens with him wearing a heat-resistant protective suit while singing “American Pie” and scrounging for food and anything salvageable from a wasteland that used to be St. Louis, Missouri. 

We learn later that our planet has become almost unlivable after a solar flare caused intense radiation from the sun and ruined the entire ozone layer, turning the temperature to extremely hot with ultraviolet rays that can scorch humans, plants and animals. 

Tom as Finch lives in an underground bunker facility, where he used to work, with his dog, Goodyear, a mixed terrier breed, and a small robot called Dewey. 

An engineer, we see Finch coughing up blood from an illness he got from radiation. He is worried about his dog so he is constructing a big android robot whose main purpose is to take care of Goodyear once he is gone. 

Finch feeds his creation with various knowledge, including how to take care of dogs. This is a very amusing sequence as we see him put eyes on the robot, teach it how to speak and perches its torso on a big lower half with long iron legs. 

He teaches it how to walk, run, and much later, even how to drive. The robot is very smart and chooses a name for himself, Jeff (voice by Caleb Landry Jones.) 

But Goodyear is hostile to Jeff and ignores him. Finch tells Jeff he should earn Goodyear’s trust, a concept Jeff is not familiar with. 

Finch learns that a killer storm that will last for 40 days is coming to St. Louis and he decides they should all leave the place or they will all surely die. 

He drives his souped up RV or mobile home and they head for San Francisco where Finch thinks conditions would be better. The film then becomes a road movie. 

Along the way, Finch continues to act like a teacher for Jeff, like Gepetto to Pinnochio, imparting lessons about how to deal with other humans. 

When Finch’s illness gets worse, Jeff ventures out by himself with Dewey, going to a ruined mall to look for supplies. Dewey falls into a trap and is destroyed. 

Finch follows them and reprimands Jeff as some bad elements have obviously detected their presence. They quickly leave but soon, they see another vehicle tailing them. 

And they’re off to another exciting episode in their perilous journey in a post-apocalyptic world. 

The movie makes us care us for Finch and feel protective of his unusual family that consists of a dog and a robot. 

As the three of them embark on a dangerous journey into what’s practically a deserted wasteland, Finch’s primary mission is to make Goodyear and Jeff be good friends. 

That sequence where he throws a ball and Goodyear fetches it is quite a gem. He then gives the ball to Jeff but when Goodyear gets it, the dog still gives it back to Finch. 

At 65, Tom Hanks is no doubt an American icon and some folks have lovingly tagged him as America’s Dad, because of his amiable persona and also, since generations have grown up following him in comedies like “Splash”, “Big”, "Sleepless in Seattle", to dramas like “Forrest Gump” and “Philadelphia” (for which he won best actor Oscars) to adventure and suspense flicks like “Cast Away” and “Bridge of Spies”. 

Tom is always good even when he’s playing supporting roles like in “The Post” or “Mister Rodgers’ Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”. 

Here, as Finch, you’d marvel at Tom’s way of dealing with the android he has created. He is impressed by his creation, specially with the hasty way Jeff learns to think for himself, and yet he is also pissed when Jeff, the son he never had, defies him and they disagree. 

But through it all, he remains very patient with him, treating him with much warmth and consideration, aware that he is really his replacement, his heir apparent. 

Tom has two stand out scenes in the movie. First is when he recounts to Jeff the sad incident of how he acquired Goodyear from a tragic mother and her daughter who became the victims of brigands. 

Second is when he recalls his own sad life of growing up without a father, as triggered by a San Francisco postcard. 

His trembling monologues are simply breathtaking, delivered with a sensitivity and openness that beautifully delivers a positive kind of emotional catharsis about an old man who looks back on his life and the burnt out world he is leaving behind. 

Tom gets great support from the cute dog who knows how to give the correct reaction shots and, of course, the robot, which is surely a marvel of science and visual effects with its childlike behavior. 

Director Miguel Sapochnik (best known for “Game of Thrones”) succeeds totally in imbuing the material with both serious and comic elements, eliciting our sympathy for all the three characters, complete with his convincing staging of huge sandstorms and disastrous tornadoes. 

It portrays an environment full of total despair and existential drama, carrying a valid message about global warming and the need to take real good care of our planets before it’s too late. 

Overall, it’s a movie that is a moving sci-fi drama that got us tearing up a couple of times.