Aftermath (2017)

  • Time: 92 min
  • Genre: Drama | Thriller
  • Director: Elliott Lester
  • Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maggie Grace, Kevin Zegers, Scoot McNairy


Near Christmas, the construction foreman Roman is eager to welcome his wife and pregnant daughter that are coming home. When he arrives at the airport, he is informed that their plane has crashed with no survivors, destroying his life. The air traffic controller Jacob “Jake” Bonaos commits an error and two planes collide. Jake is forced to have another identity and move to another town, being separated from his beloved wife Christina and son. Roman hires a private investigator to locate Jake. When Roman meets him, a tragedy happens.


  • It’s not only the miscasting of Arnold Schwarzenegger that plagues the Darren Aronofsky-produced, Javier Gullón-scripted, and Elliott Lester-directed drama, Aftermath. Its most irreparable hurdle is its catatonic pacing, which both enervates and aggravates.

    Inspired by the real-life 2002 Überlingen mid-air collision, which resulted in a Russian man, whose family was killed in the crash, murdering one of the tower crew in front of his wife and children, Aftermath begins with Schwarzenegger’s Roman, a construction foreman about to be reunited with his wife and pregnant daughter. When he arrives at the airport and approaches a ticket desk to inquire about the flight’s delay, he’s quickly ushered into a sterile room where he’s told of the crash and his family’s death. His grief leads him to volunteer at the crash site, where luggage and various pieces of clothing are strewn amongst parts of the plane. There he’s horrified to discover the body of his daughter, still strapped into her seat, which dangles from a tree.

    Roman’s grief unravels him – he quits his job, spends his nights sleeping next to the graves of his wife, daughter and unborn grandchild, and is increasingly upset when everyone involved offers him everything but a simple apology. He wants someone to take accountability – for him, time will not heal this particular wound.

    In the meantime, air traffic controller Jake (Scoot McNairy), who inadvertently caused the collision but was absolved of any guilt by the airline safety hearings, is trapped in his own private hell of guilt, suffering a nervous breakdown that threatens to disintegrate his family. It’s inevitable that Roman and Jake, bound by their suffering, will soon face one another. But will their fateful encounter result in absolution or vengeance?

    To be honest, it matters not a whit for the whole thing is so airless and downbeat. This is a film that does nothing but go through the motions, hitting one predictable beat after another, with little to offer by way of insight or complexity. To be fair to Schwarzenegger, he delivers a solid performance – between this and last year’s Maggie, he’s proven himself to be good at understated turns – but the complicated depths of this role are simply beyond his capabilities. It’s a shame, really, because the tale could have been so much more resonant, its tragedy more searing, had there been a more psychologically nimble actor in his role.

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  • “I would like for someone to say that they’re sorry for killing my family. I want the company to apologize.”

    “Aftermath” is the story of a tragic plane crash between two commercial airliners. As a result their are 271 lives lost. Among them the wife and pregnant daughter of the Russian foreman Roman (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Don’t expect staggering images of the accident with explosive footage and anxiously screaming passengers. The only image you’ll see of the incident is that of Jake (Scoot McNairy) in the control tower looking bewildered at his screen where the two symbols of the particular line flights disappeared. And a short fragment of the place where the wreckage’s crashed and Roman who succeeded in joining a group of volunteers who gather evidence and locate victims. No, the film focuses on the aftermath (hence the title) and the impact the accident has on the two people involved.

    At first, I thought the plane accident was the result of a plot and the phone was deliberately sabotaged. In short, I actually expected a suspenseful thriller where Arnold Schwarzenegger could give someone a piece of his mind. However, don’t expect an action-packed movie. “Aftermath” is a slow-burner in which dealing with loss and guilt are key. A film focusing on central themes as grief and self-pity after a traumatic experience. It’s a thorough character study of two people whose life collapsed because of this tragic accident. But underneath these emotions that feeling of revenge simmers and you wait for that obvious confrontation between the victim and the one who caused all the suffering.

    The only thing Roman wants, is someone apologizing and simply saying “We’re sorry”. It’s a collage with images of a mourning Schwarzenegger and Scoot McNairy who can’t handle his fatal error. Their emotional state is the reason why they can’t function properly. Roman hides away and is no longer able to perform anything meaningful. He spends his nights sleeping on the grave of his deceased relatives. Jake retreats into a cocoon of self-pity and reproach. It ends up in an unmanageable family situation and a short-term breakup initiated by his wife (Maggie Grace).

    Schwarzenegger once again amazes me with a character role in a drama. Earlier he demonstrated this in “Maggie”. It’s an actor who has his limitations and he won’t be associated quickly with roles where one’s character is more important than brutal violence. Here he proves that he can handle this as good as showing his impressive muscles. The latter is not so evident anymore, considering his age. Not only his face is grooved by age. Also, his butt doesn’t look as tight anymore as seen in a shower scene. Clear evidence that even an infamous action-hero can’t be saved from aging. But the moment he’s sitting opposite some insensible lawyers who talk to him in a disparaging tone, Schwarzenegger shows again how intimidating and imminent he can be. Without a doubt, the most fascinating scene from the entire movie.

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  • Aftermath seems like a decent title for my latest review. It readily shows the quote unquote “aftermath” of two people dealing with a plane crash in a discontented winter. It starts off as absorbing. Then, it folds like a misconstrued hand at a poker game. Aftermath is movie “sitz bath”.

    Distributed by Lionsgate Premiere and based on a true account via a mid-air collision, Aftermath puts everything out there at a budget of $10 million. Perhaps if said budget were a little higher, director Elliott Lester would have detailed the wreckage more like Robert Zemeckis did in Flight or Clint Eastwood did in Sully. Regardless, he interrupts Aftermath to show a few 747’s gliding distantly in the sky. It’s probably Lester’s only play and the obviousness is there to remind us.

    Anyway, Aftermath’s intrigue dons plot holes and puts the main characters in the forefront. The result is concise yet almost too concise. On the bright side, this conch does have a distinctive thread for a limited release film. The story involves a grizzled-up construction worker who’s about to be a grandfather. He then loses his wife and pregnant daughter in a plane accident. The air traffic controller assigned, had a mishap at work and that’s what caused it all (271 people dead, ouch). Gradually, their sad stories intertwine until they collide in two abrupt, sort of inessential conclusions. The second conclusion while surprising, hastily involves the air traffic controller’s son.

    Aftermath does have a few moments that are shattering. It’s a manipulative dramatization, brought on by cynicism, unhappy resolves, and self-hatred. Lester relies heavily on a slow burn approach and does what he can. However, his flick while vaguely admirable, dissolves into paint-by-numbers material teetering on the edge of DVD premiere territory (which it almost is). The work from his two lead actors (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Scott McNairy) almost deems Aftermath recommendable.

    Harboring a silvery beard and a solemn look, Schwarzenegger pretty much tells the world he’s done being an action hero. His range as a dramatic trouper has always been suspect but here he manages to offer a heartfelt and seething performance. As the tormented grandfather named Roman Melnik, he gives us his best turn since Total Recall. McNairy who was a bright spot in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, matches him as well. He blurs the lines of sanity and loneliness as the embattled air traffic controller named Jake Bonanos. They try hard but Aftermath with its lot of scheming disenchantment and its junctures fitting too nicely, doesn’t quite do them a solid. Overall, a mixed review from me. Rating: 2 and a half stars.

    Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

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