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Aftermath (Arnold Schwarzenegger) - DVD Review


Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

ARNOLD Schwarzenegger continues to indulge his serious actor side in Aftermath, a psychological drama based on a true story of revenge.

But while certainly decent enough as an acting showcase for both Arnie and main co-star Scoot McNairy, the film itself often struggles to grip as emotionally as it should because of cumbersome pacing, unconvincing plot choices and the overall feeling that everyone is trying a little too hard.

The story finds Arnie playing a construction foreman whose life is shattered by a mid-air collision between two planes that kills his wife and pregnant daughter. At the same time, it follows the air traffic controller (played by McNairy), whose life similarly unravels following his involvement in the tragedy.

For while Schwarzenegger struggles to come to terms with his grief and subsequently sets on a path of revenge against the man he feels is responsible, so McNairy battles his own feelings of guilt as he attempts to comprehend the enormity of the tragedy while being a good husband and father.

Directed by Elliott Lester (of Jason Statham’s Blitz fame), Aftermath poses some interesting questions about grief and the nature of how a tragedy can be perceived. But it quite often feels heavy-handed in its execution.

Early on, the film succeeds in creating a certain amount of tension, particularly in the build up to both the air disaster (which unfolds from the perspective of the air traffic control tower, using dots on a radar), and how Schwarzenegger’s father discovers the horrible news.

But it then opts for a slow-burning approach to the drama, focusing on both men as their day to day existence unravels, along with their sanity.

McNairy is particularly strong during these scenes, conveying his inner turmoil in riveting fashion, but while Schwarzenegger is good value, too, there are moments when he seems to be overdoing things in a bid to be taken seriously. He’s at his best when dealing with his rage, perhaps because this allows him to riff upon past movie emotions without ever indulging in the action man stakes.

Indeed, for those that don’t know the true story (which has been expanded into a greater tragedy), the resolution is genuinely shocking and well executed. But even then, a very last act addition has more to do with movie convention than reality, while some of the plot devices that bring the two men together feel highly contrived and undermine the film’s overall credibility.

It means that Aftermath fares better as a curiosity piece than a must-see drama. It’s a character drama guided by good acting that can’t quite land the emotional blows you feel it should.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 94mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: June 19, 2017