Aftermath: Crash and burn

Arnie’s attempt at a drama is a disaster in many ways

He’s famous for being a body builder, an action superstar and the former Governor of California (also fathering a child with another woman while married to his spouse of 25 years). And post his political career, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the big screen has been underscored by his attempt to expand his acting range. Take his 2015 horror drama Maggie where the Terminator star played father to a zombie daughter. This year, he’s going all in with Aftermath, a drama thriller loosely based on a true incident.

Roman (Schwarzenegger) has lost his wife and pregnant daughter in a horrific accident where two airplanes have collided mid-air. The tragedy occurred because of a mistake by an air controller named Jacob (Scoot McNairy). All Roman wants is some form of remorse from the authorities and the person responsible for the mishap. But he only gets a pitiful offer for remuneration for his loss. Understandably so, Roman seeks out what he wants most: an apology

Try as he might, Schwarzenegger just cannot convey the depth of emotion a man feels at losing his family. His face certainly crumples with grief and he even appears to become immobile with shock. There’s a scene where he’s forcing lawyers (in charge of settlements) to look at a photograph of his family which only underwhelms. We’re simply watching Schwarzenegger’s stoic Roman fumble around life, spend nights at his family’s grave and watch home movies. There’s no compassion evoked for a man who’s been through so much. McNairy, on the other hand does a fine job of becoming a guilt-ridden depressed shell of man.

Director Elliott Lester only scratches the surface of what could have been a poignant film. It appears like his actors just go through the motions of their scripted emotions. Take for instance when Jacob threatens to rob a pharmacist if his doctor won’t refill his prescription. An incompetent doctor won’t give into the demands of a mentally-ill patient. The sequence of the film, although linear, moves mechanically and appears forced at times. It could likely be that grief and guilt could manifest differently in people in real life. But the film forces us to wonder if its fault lies in a bad script or the acting. Add a deathly slow pace to the mix and you’ve got a crashing bore on your hands.

Aftermath couldn’t have gotten over sooner despite the sensitive and tragic circumstances that unfold on screen.

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Printable version | Jun 7, 2020 6:27:12 AM |

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