<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Elliott Lester. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Scoot McNairy, Maggie Grace, Hannah Ware, Martin Donovan, Glenn Morshower
Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes
You feel such a sense of nostalgia when you hear Arnie’s voice on screen. And it’s heartening that he’s choosing films like Aftermath to show his more sensitive side.
In Aftermath, Roman (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a Russian construction worker, goes to the airport to welcome his wife and pregnant daughter travelling back from Kiev. But when he reaches the airport sad news is about to befall upon him.
More than a story about planes crashing, Aftermath is a story of two people’s lives crashing and burning as they try very hard to resurrect their spirits. Roman must deal with his double loss, first being in a daze, then anger and eventually acceptance. The air-traffic controller, Jacob Bonaos (Scoot McNairy) who was responsible for the tragedy must deal with the hatred towards him from the families of the loved ones as well as his own disdain for what he did. Ultimately, they both lose something, but their struggles are different.
It’s a slow paced, subtle story of grief, anger, revenge and forgiveness. Arnie’s performance is subdued, but his pain is loud and clear. He doesn’t go into ‘Terminator’ mode here to get back at those responsible. His outrage, helplessness and feelings for retribution are more real. While we get to see his sagging muscles, it is his face and eyes that do all of the heavy lifting.
Scoot McNairy plays the depressed and suicidal Jacob equally well. You end up sympathising with both men, neither are completely wrong for what they did, or end up doing.
Aftermath gives us a valuable lesson about life and the importance of saying sorry, for saying it out loud to those we have wronged so that healing can happen. And it also shows us that our favourite action hero should be doing more films where he flexes his emotional muscles, like his spellbinding film Maggie.
The film is more relevant today in the wake of the United Airlines incident where a passenger was dragged off a plane as the airline had overbooked. We aren’t flying the friendly skies anymore, and that needs to change.
PS: I was a bit surprised that random volunteers are allowed to scour the crash site for evidence just having filled up a form! Tell me this isn’t so.