Director: Elliott Lester
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Scoot McNairy, Maggie Grace
In a moving piece of fiction, set in the backdrop of the real life tragedy of a mid-air collision between two planes at Überlingen in 2002, this film puts forth an idea of restitution through revenge and forgiveness in the aftermath of an accidental tragedy.
Was it the air controller’s fault or was it one of the pilots? Well, the pilots and all passengers die in the collision, so that leaves the air controller Jake Baonos (Scoot McNairy) to face the brunt of grief and anger directed at him by all the surviving relatives – and one in particular, Roman Melnyk (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a man who lost his wife and pregnant daughter in the plane crash.
The film handles both their perspectives with intense engagement, pitting unassailable grief and impregnable guilt against each other – thus leaving both men involved, in an emotionally crippled state, that begs for release. But release doesn’t come easy. Roman is not interested in the deal put forth by the airlines. He just wants someone to say sorry for the loss he has suffered while Jake can’t forgive himself for his neglect – which cost the death of 275 passengers and staff on both flights. He tries to restart his life with a new name and a new job but it feels fake to him. He wants his family back but… circumstances don’t permit that. The two men are slowly and steadily heading to a confrontation that could well shatter all their tomorrows.
It’s a premise that has gravitas and director Elliott Lester’s gripping treatment allows for an intensely emotional involvement. Jake is as much of a victim as Roman is. What would interest us though is the manner in which the gloom enveloping the two doom them both. It’s a very complicated and sad situation that makes you delve on morals and vengeance in a fairly deep manner. This film is very unlike any Arnold Schwarzenegger film we’ve seen before and even Arnie has shed his patented stiffness for a more expressively emotional turn – one, that’s sure to be a revelation for everyone at large. He is believable here and that’s saying a lot about an actor we don’t expect acting chops from. To top it, Scoot McNairy puts in a haunted turn that will make you root for him despite the river of blood on his hands. Javier Gullon’s screenplay pulls off an understated affect bringing in all manners of culpabilities into play before fading out in an endgame that will leave you surprised if not disturbed. Frankly, this movie deserves to be seen even by the action junkies!
Watch ‘Aftermath’ trailer: