Aftermath: An engaging, thought-provoking drama
Cast : Arnold Schwarzenegger, Scoot McNairy, Maggie Grace
Director : Elliott Lester
Aftermath is a bit of a surprise. Arnold being cast in the lead role of a drama film inspired by true events? It is but natural to be sceptical of such a film. Let’s face it -- the man hasn’t built his success in the film industry on his acting prowess. Based on the real-life Überlingen mid-air collision, Aftermath presents the cause and effect of a catastrophic tragedy on those involved on both sides of the event. The film is an understated exploration of human emotions that delves into loss, grief, the importance of closure, and the ultimate need to forgive. Schwarzenegger, for his part, plays the subtle card better than perhaps ever before, making Aftermath a compelling drama from beginning to end.
While waiting at the airport for his wife and pregnant daughter to arrive, Roman (Schwarzenegger) gets the shocking news of their demise due to a mid-air collision. Unable to make sense of the situation, he tries hard to attain closure and move on with his lonely life. Jake (McNairy) is unable to come to terms with a lapse of concentration in the Air Traffic Control Office that has led to a head-on collision in the sky, leading to the significant loss of innocent life. His superiors try to assuage his guilt by leading him to believe that he made an honest mistake. But the burden of Jake’s guilt takes a huge emotional and psychological toll on him and his family. Meanwhile, Roman is hell bent on receiving an apology from the people responsible for his family’s demise.
Aftermath is a character study of two men: one who seeks to blame someone for his loss, and the other who is attempting to cope with much guilt. The film brings out the best in both its lead actors, with McNairy convincing us of both his innocence and unclear conscience. Uncharacteristic of his nature, Arnold pulls through with his understated role of the brooding, lonely man dealing with an incomprehensible loss, rather well.
This film blurs the classic lines between good and bad, having us empathise and sympathise with both Roman and Jake in equal measure. Despite the action-filled last minutes that disturb the overall pace of the narrative and leaves us with little or no closure at the end, Aftermath is an engaging and thought-provoking drama.