If you were expecting an Arnold Schwarzenegger blow-up action movie with clever one-liners, then forget about your expectations. In Aftermath, Schwarzenegger plays Roman, a man whose entire life destroyed when his wife and daughter die in an airplane accident. The story revolves around Roman and Jake (Scoot McNairy), the air traffic controller who causes the error that leads to the fatal plane collision. These two men living opposite lives that are now forever bound together by the events of the crash.
Generally, movies center on the action that lead-up to the climax, but this film is all about the fallout, it’s really where to movie starts and revolves around. The fallout usually is the least exciting part of any event, it is the forgotten part. For example, in a breakup between two people, does anyone ever focus on what happens to the individuals and their feelings after the breakup happens? Usually not, because the events that lead up to it and the breakup itself is the intriguing part. The drama is usually subdued in the aftermath. This is what makes this movie unique, the aftermath is the focus, the less exciting and event is being given attention to. No one likes the aftermath because it’s usually bleak, just like this film.
This is a somber, dark and depressing movie, yet it’s intriguing because of that. The main characters are all dealing with this incredible grief and loss. They are alive, but not living. Schwarzenegger does some of his best work that he’s done in decade in this film. It’s the anti-Arnold kinda role that you’re not accustomed to. He does nice work relaying the heartache and devastation that is occupying his soul. McNairy is equally good in portraying the inner turmoil and guilt that his character is dealing with. Even Maggie Grace plays Jake’s wife and she digs deeper emotionally also in the scenes she appears in. Unfortunately, these performances are somewhat tapered due to the constant background music that seems to never stop throughout the movie. It’s distracting and takes away from some of the genuine powerful moments that the actors are trying to relay.
In order to fully stick with the movie, viewer patience is required. The pacing is very slow, it’s like a constant slow burning build, but you’re not sure what it’s building towards? The scenes flip from one persons hardships to the others, never really giving you a moment to exhale and feel less somber. There is no winner, only losers in this story. Everyone loses based on the tragic events. There is no silver lining or hope, it’s hopeless and bleak with no promise for a brighter future. I appreciate the fact that writer Javier Gullón and director Elliott Lester stick to the premise they set forth at the start and don’t waver. This is a depressing movie from start to finish. There is no feel good part about it and there is something to be said for keeping it real in that sense. No Hollywood ending could do justice to the events that take place in this story, and the filmmakers don’t pretend there is one.
Overall, Aftermath is unique in the sense that it tackles a depressing subject matter and deals with the repercussions of it. This movie won’t make you feel any good feelings and you’ll probably feel somber after seeing it. There is no masking of the raw feelings of devastation, and it’s kinda refreshing to see that in a movie. This is a movie and role that Arnold needed to get himself on to showcase some of his range and ability as he hits the twilight of his career. This wasn’t a movie I expected to see going into it, but I’m glad Aftermath fed me some raw emotion and real perspective on the fleeting nature of life.