Aftermath Review

Aftermath (2017) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

Director: Elliott Lester
Writer: Javier Gullón
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maggie Grace, Scoot McNairy

Aftermath is a story about two individuals whose lives are bound together after a devastating plane crash changes their lives forever.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is Roman Melnyk and soon to be proud grandfather. After finishing his shift at the construction site, Roman heads for the airport excited to see his wife and his daughter who is pregnant. When instructed to report to the information desk he soon learns the terrible tragedy that has just unfolded about his family’s airplane colliding in the midair with another airplane.

I have to admit being used to and brought up on Arnold’s previous work and his all action hero genre, I kept expecting the character of Roman to go all guns blazing and knock out a corny line or six as he took out the bad guys. Fortunately here, this is Arnold Schwarzenegger the dramatic actor.

Arnold’s portrayal of Roman is sad, sympathetic and emotional finding his way through life after the terrible events of his entire family and world, gone in a flash. Schwarzenegger in Aftermath is superb and really shows his acting ability (a late bloomer) here under the most terrible circumstances. The character of Roman goes through several stages of shock and disbelief to eventual anger and looking for an answer or in his case an apology from someone.

We are then introduced to Jacob (Jake) who is an ordinary family man who works nights as an air traffic controller. Scoot McNairy plays Jake as a normal down to earth guy who lives his wife and young son and takes his job very seriously. Unfortunately for Jake his life is about to change forever. We are then dragged back to the events prior to Roman’s bad news and what is about to happen can only be described as a series of unfortunate and tragic events. Having just arrived at his shift in the control tower, Jake’s colleague decides to have a quick break which Jake has no problem with as it appears he has everything under control.

Things begin to unravel in the tower as maintenance suddenly appear to repair a faulty telephone line, meaning telephones are all out at this moment for the foreseeable time. Adding to this Jake is directing several flights and instructing them to take their positions. It’s at this point in the scene Jake explains to one of the pilots that he will have to contact another airport directly due to the telephone situation. Whilst this happens one of the planes appears to seek advice from Jake on dropping his altitude, which Jake misses in the midst of trying to juggle the workload alone. Jake  witnesses two planes heading across each other at the same altitude colliding and disappearing off the radar.

Director Elliott Lester had the difficult role of handling both perspectives from the “aftermath” of a terrible disaster. Roman Melnyk being the victim of the tragedy losing his wife and daughter whom was pregnant in the plane crash and this is the premise that most audience members will naturally feel for and understand. With the other perspective a little more complex on how you are supposed to feel about Jake, an air traffic controller working the air flight control center alone accidentally missing an update from one of the airplanes resulted in two planes colliding mid-air which led to claiming over 200 deaths, including Roman’s family. Lester manages to keep both storylines running parallel with each other and keep the movie running along at a consistent pace from both perspectives. The writer  Javier Gullón should be commended for never villainizing Jake at any point and allows the audience to make their own minds up on how they feel about both characters.

Aftermath slots Arnold Schwarzenegger into a real life situation of the most horrifying type and it has to be said that this is one of his best performance of his long film career. He is so convincing as the grieving  husband, father and tragically almost a grandfather. One thing I did notice was Arnold’s limited script. He has always been famous for his word count in most of his movies and here is no different. But the difference here is his actions or should that be reactions. His face is angst ridden and his body movement is of a beaten man. Arnold plays the role with conviction and emotion and he deserves enormous credit for his portrayal of Roman.

On the flip side we witness Scoot McNairy as Jacob turn from happy family man to an emotional wreck full of turmoil and isolation from his family and friends. McNairy does a fine job playing basically two characters of the same person and watching his decline is almost as tragic as the incident that sent him on a downward spiral.

To summarise “Aftermath” is an intriguing film that touches a subject that isn’t explored enough in the business. The turmoil and tribulations are explored in great depth within our main characters that are fully developed within the duration of the movie. If you are a fan of Arnie and interested in seeing him in a more dramatic role than normal, I can’t recommend this movie enough. Thoroughly enjoyable.

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