AFTERMATH is a devastating story about two men whose worlds collide in similar ways but from two very different view points after a tragic event.
Roman (Arnold Schwarzenegger) loses his family in a terrible plane crash. Jake (Scoot McNairy) is the air traffic control man who is on duty when the two planes collided. Both lives are flipped upside down in horrific ways. With a quiet anger building inside, Roman wants an apology, someone to take blame for the death of his family. Jake is plagued with guilt and sorrow, which is affecting his relationship with his wife and son.
It’s not easy to use words for these type of emotions and AFTERMATH relies heavily on the two actors expressing this through physical expression. I think for many, the draw to AFTERMATH will be to see Arnold Schwarzenegger in a different role. Like 2015’s MAGGIE, Arnold is attempting his transition to more dramatic work. At nearly 70 years old, the action films aren’t as achievable. I think Arnold holds his own quite well. A couple of very small moments aside, Arnold portrays Roman with great restraint. Letting the audience use the plot to reveal his pain and keeping his emotions quiet, guarded and bottled with bubbling anger. Scoot McNairy is also up for the task, taking Jake down a spiraling case of depression and pain in a more visually expressive way.
The problem with AFTERMATH is that their just isn’t a lot going on after the initial premise. The story is interesting, but there’s a vacancy in the storytelling. Director Elliot Lester (NIGHTINGALE) and screenwriter Javier Gullón (ENEMY) seem to have difficulty filling in the gaps. While the parallels between these two men is intriguing, AFTERMATH becomes a bit redundant, failing to capture the true emotional extremities of the situation.
According to the film, the story is based on true events, but that clearly is mostly about two major incidents with the rest of AFTERMATH speculating in character development. Without wanting to take many liberties, it’s hard to judge emotional actions. In a singular scene, the airline representatives are portrayed quite villainous for no other reason than to juice up a direction for the audience to place their blame. While their pitiful offer of reconciliation might be true, I highly doubt the representative delivering that offer would carry such an outwardly venomous communication toward anyone that was affected by the tragedy. Outside of this scene, The filmmakers do their best to keep the theatrics to a minimum, allowing the gravity of the situation to carry the film.
AFTERMATH walks a fine line of nearly being too disconnected and lifeless but gives just enough intrigue to achieve an emotional impact through developing the characters. With that said, I think there is a much better movie inside AFTERMATH. Ultimately, at 94 minutes, the film has sufficient depth from the emotional pull of the situation along with a mostly strong performance from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Scoot McNairy to make it worth viewing.