After spending years away being the Governator of California Arnie’s return to film has been less than stellar with his leading roles being in either forgettable ( The Last Stand) or ignored (Maggie) or franchise ending (Terminator Genysys).As he turns 70 this year it appears that his action days are understandably over and is turning to dramatic roles as seen in Maggie( although few actually did). ‘Aftermath’ is the true story of Roman, a construction supervisor awaiting his wife and daughter, pregnant with his grandchild, from a return flight from Kiev. As soon as he arrives at the airport it’s clear all is not well as he’s taken to a private room where an airline representative breaks the devastating news to him………The plane his family were on has crashed with no survivors.
From here the story rewinds to the start of the day for air controller Paul ( Scoot McNairy) as he sets off for work. Distracted by engineers in the air traffic control tower where he works, his mind is not on the job as he tries to get his phone repaired and he takes off his head phones and doesn’t hear planes changing their altitude with tragic consequences. Unlike air crash scenes we’ve seen in films such as ‘Alive’ , ‘Castaway’ and ‘Fight Club’ this is seen via the radar control screen but is equally horrifying in it’s simplicity.
From here their lives run in parallel both devastated with grief, one at the loss of his family and the other at what he’s done and unable to cope mentally he falls apart losing his marriage in the process. With the airline keen to off lay any responsibility their odious corporate lawyers offer to pay off Roman to end his solo civil action against them. It’s one of the few scenes where we see the man mountain intimidate a rather oily young buck lawyer showing him a photo of his family and telling him that all he really wants is to meet the man who did this and get him to apologise for what he’s done . It’s the sort of babsis for revenge drama’s where Arnie would be going on a roaring rampage of revenge as he did in ‘Collateral Damage’ and if this was the 80’s it would be the same old, same old all over again. What does happen when they do finally meet is both unexpected and shocking and a little upsetting too.
In ‘Maggie’ Arnie gave us a glimpse of what he can do and seeing him with a tear in his eye was as much a shock as anything else in that film. Here though he remains stoic and nowhere near as distressed as you might expect except for one scene which stretches credibility where he wangles into way into the crash scene to assist in the area search and finds his daughter’s dead body. It is utterly tragic and it’s not the only time the pursuit of revenge is shown to be both futile and ultimately unsatisfactory which is alluded to when one character reads from Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’. Perhaps the only problem with what is an engrossing drama is that it takes too long to get to that meeting between the two and the end of the film does feel a little rushed in what is only a 92 minute film. Produced by Darren Aronofsky ( Back Swan, Noah) Arnie has put himself in good hands to rejuvenate his flagging career and though this is far from the big budget and booming bangs of his action film heydays this is high drama shot in a low key style which makes rewarding viewing.
Here’s the trailer…….