While Aftermath is based on true events of two planes crashing in Germany in 2002, the premise of loved ones dealing with the “aftermath” is universal with any plane crashing. Arnold Schwarzenegger continues trying to mount a comeback after a few failed starts, including Terminator Genisys and the indie zombie flick Maggie. Aftermath, which is headed to VOD and not a wide theatrical release, won’t do much for him either. The film opens with Jingle Bells and Schwarzenegger’s bum, two things no one really wants to see in April. While the script takes us into some dark territory concerning grief and tragedy, it often bends realistic protocol in order to show a more Hollywood style, falsely dramatic story.

Roman (Schwarzenegger) left his construction job early, headed to the airport to pick up his wife and expectant daughter. He is about to be a grandfather, but upon arrival at the airport, flowers in hand, something is wrong. Jake Bonanos (McNairy), a flight tower operator in Ohio has the unfortunate timing of being left alone when two planes desperately needed his attention. 271 people on board the two planes perish. Both men suffer immense loss and struggle to cope with the circumstance. Roman spends months trying to move on but cannot get the airline or anyone to even apologize for what happen. Jake is crucified by the media, forced to change careers, move cities and abandon his own family.

Schwarzenegger isn’t the guy you want for a role that’s heavy on the internal performance.

Javier Gullón’s script counts on the audience not understanding that a minimum amount of personnel must be in the air traffic control tower at all times. This movie shows Jake being left all alone which leads to the devastating accident. Another major eye roll in this story is how Roman is able to walk up and sign a form to help the NTSB comb through the wreckage. Obviously, this allows for a highly dramatic scene where Roman discovers the bodies of his family. The synopsis for Aftermath reads: “Two strangers’ lives become inextricably bound together after a devastating plane crash”. While it isn’t untrue, the two characters don’t meet until the end of the film. Ironically, that same description applies to the 1999 film Random Hearts starring Harrison Ford and Kristen Scott Thomas, but that one was more interesting.

Aftermath doesn’t know which aspect of the story to focus on, the tragedy, the grief, the revenge or the procedure. Director Elliott Lester (got his start filming Hilary Duff music videos) can’t bring this movie above something you would see on television. His direction with actors isn’t any better. There’s more Schwarzenegger starring at walls and walking to and from, than there is of him performing. Visually the film is dull and bleak, set in the days after Christmas in an unflattering suburb of Ohio. Aftermath struggles to grasp for emotion but chooses a procedural delivery that just move characters from one event to another that feels more like an elongated episode of some larger series.

Final Thought

Schwarzenegger and the inexperienced director can’t find the emotio Aftermath needs to function.


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