REVIEW: Aftermath (2017) – ManlyMovie

REVIEW: Aftermath (2017)

Run Time: 94 Mins
Rated: R
What To Expect: A heavy and oppressive drama, Schwarzenegger’s best performance ever

Usually when I get invited to look at a smaller movie, the chances are that it’s probably better than the bigger movie invites.  Two examples are The Conjuring 2 sucking with Kickboxer: Vengeance being highly enjoyable.  It’s probably because the powers that be know that the smaller movies in question are good and that they need that extra bit of publicity.  Cards on table, in the case of Aftermath (previously titled 478) with Arnold Schwarzenegger, I was quietly expecting another bad egg like Maggie.  Turns out it’s a decent drama, with a script that, in a not-so-alternate universe, would probably have starred Casey Affleck and Hugh Jackman… and gotten a massive promotional budget and praise.

In Aftermath, Arnold plays Ukrainian immigrant Roman, eagerly awaiting a visit from his adoring wife and daughter. He tells his boss at the construction site that he’s had the house prepared for days — with banners and balloons awaiting their arrival, he can hardly contain his glee.  Their arrival is not to be though, because at the air traffic control center at the city airport, controller Jacob (Scoot McNairy) has a brief, understandable lapse in co-ordination, resulting in two airliners colliding and destroying each other at 5,000 feet.  Roman’s family dies.

From there, two separate angles of anguish are studied, from Roman’s point of view as the grief stricken father and husband, and from Jacob’s point of view as the guilt-stricken controller, responsible for the deaths of so many. Heading towards the end, Roman wants answers and an apology — leading him to Jacob.

It seems that in the 21st century, the single most iconic symbol of trauma is the airliner.  Take your pick from 9/11 to MH-17, with hijackings and crash sites, this sombre and oppressive movie appeals to our subconscious grieving; the scene with Schwarzenegger sneaking into the crash site to find his family in particular is raw stuff, with that familiar image of dislodged seats and bodies hanging from trees.  To that end, this is a demanding role that many actors would flunk, so who would’ve thought that none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger would knock this type of thing out of the park?

It’s his best acting performance in, well, forever.  There are dense and strong emotions that need to be conveyed here, but with tact and subtlety… Arnold does it brilliantly.  Better for example than in the borefest that was ‘Maggie’, which was simply dull.  Here, you genuinely feel for the character and want to see what he’s going to do next.  This includes Scoot McNairy, who handles a man with hundreds of deaths on his shoulders equally as well.  In fact I found McNairy’s character more interesting, since being haunted by mass death at your hands is extraordinary, while losing family is not.  And by the way, this is not a cameo con job, with Schwarzenegger appearing sparsely, it’s about 50/50.

I don’t know how Schwarzenegger fans are going to take this movie.  It’s not an action movie, it’s not even a thriller. It’s a character study, a drama… and director Elliot Lester knows how to subliminally take you out of your comfort zone with small beats here and there, such as the muffled background noise when Arnold is learning of the accident of a another relative of another family beating the wall in despair in the room next door – this is contrast with Arnold’s quietness.  Some will find this stuff kind of depressing, what with its winter setting and lack of smiles. But it scores, because it knows its limitations (keeps it to 90 minutes) and the actors make it.  The ending however is unexpected and might further divide people.

This movie is going to be a critical success.  What can I say… it’s not a masterpiece and can be dreary now and again, but I had fun watching it and it wasn’t what I was expecting. I didn’t know Arnold had it in him. A very strong seven.

  • Mucho Macho

    This review got me excited about this movie. Much rather have Arnold doing stuff like this than that bullshit Celebrity Apprentice show.

  • Mucho Macho

    If Charles Bronson was the star of this movie he would have killed every fucker in the airport in retaliation.

    • Duncan BROcleod

      Our Sensei would’ve clobbered them all in unarmed combat, twisting their limbs in every direction before shoving them face-first into vending machines.

      • Mucho Macho

        After the Sensei entered that mini market and kicked ass all over the place…
        The next day it turned into a Walmart

  • Wow, what a surprise. I would’ve guessed 5/10 before reading this article. I’ll put it on my to do list

  • Mainline DnB

    Side note: All of this actually happened. I read up on the case a while back so i already know how the “film” ends. Crazy.

  • Andymovieman

    Feels like the crossing guard with Jack Nicholson. All it needs is the song missing from Bruce springsteen and you’ve got a film.

  • Barney Ross

    Hey Knightrider can you rate these movies for me please so i know what to expect??

    Eraser – ?/10
    The Last Stand – ?/10
    Escape Plan – ?/10
    Sabotage – ?/10
    Maggie – ?/10

    This is what i’d give these movies
    Eraser – 10/10
    The Last Stand – 5/10
    Escape Plan – 5/10
    Sabotage – 6.5/10
    Maggie – 2/10

    • Shadow

      Well, till you wait for Knight’s answer, here is my score.
      Eraser – 10/10 (all was great)
      The Last Stand strong 7/10 (it is far better than you could expect)
      Escape Plan 6/10 (bad editing for fights sequences)
      Sabotage 5/10 (i expected far more from this movie)
      Maggie 2/10 (good idea, boring execution)

      • The Night Rider

        ‘Boring execution’

        That’s a good description of Maggie. It was a waste.

        • Barney Ross

          Do you remember my fanmade trailer for Maggie?? its better than the actual movie hahaha

          • Shadow

            Can’t disagree here)

          • Barney Ross

            Thanks for watching, i did that trailer for some members from Thearnoldfans forum when it was opened, it was a request.

            Nothing special but indeed, better than what we got haha. I mean i’d like to see Arnold in Walking Dead or something…but Maggie was a bore fest even if Arnold is my favorite action star / actor

      • Barney Ross

        I need to rewatch The Last Stand but the first time i saw it i was disapointed, i’ll give it another shot

        If you hate maggie check this out haha

    • The Night Rider

      Eraser – 8/10
      Last Stand – 7/10
      Escape Plan – 9/10
      Sabotage – 6/10 (they fucked Ayer and made him redo the ending, I would’ve given it 7)
      Maggie – it was something like 4-5/10, very dull movie.

      This movie is grim but you get behind the characters.

      • Barney Ross

        Thanks mate i appreciate!


    Arnold looks ready for CONAN in that pic

    • The Night Rider

      Not in this movie. Arnold is a bit overweight, the first time I’ve ever seen him like that. I didn’t put it in the review because it was a bit petty and irrelevant.

      Didn’t bother me though, he’s earned time to relax and could get in Conan shape in weeks knowing him.

  • Barney Ross
  • csc-60293

    I have a question about the distribution company that is handling this film and will also handle the distribution for Escape Plan 2 . On IMDb Escape Plan 2 is listed as being distributed by Lionsgate Premiere in the USA (The same that handle the distribution for Blood Father and Aftermath) Does this mean the film will only have a limited release in theaters ?

    • Keith Flippen

      From what I understand, yes. From what I understand, the movie is supposed to have limited theatrical release and be available on-demand simultaneously on April 7th.

  • Jacob Phillips

    The trailer gives away practically the whole movie apart from the ending.

    • Keith Flippen

      No, actually there is a LOT left unsaid. Your experience has not been spoiled.

  • Thunderdome

    Just curious how Arnold’s chest is in this. I saw a trailer and there’s a shot of him getting out of bed. I know it was said he was a bit overweight in this but how did his chest look? He never goes shirtless anymore.

  • Barney Ross

    New Clip from the film is out

  • TheOldMcClane

    didn’t like seeing Arnold in this cheap of a production.