Since 1970, bodybuilder turned Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger has kept us entertained through set-pieces and glib one-liners. Over the years, he played Conan, The Terminator, he’s been to Mars and fought the devil etc. As of 2015, he entered a second phase. Not content to wind down or simply recycle old tropes, he’s discovered the actor within himself. It began with Maggie, Henry Hobson’s terrific drama covering loss of identity, specifically how one father dealt with his daughter’s gradual transformation into a zombie. Yet the film wasn’t about the undead. There were no throw away gags or big explosions. Rather the camera rested upon Arnie’s face, which proved to be the only weapon he needed. For Aftermath, the soul searching continues.
Construction worker Roman (Schwarzenegger) seems relatively happy. He has a wife and his daughter will soon give birth. Work proves rewarding, and the sun always rises to the promise of a new day. Meanwhile, air traffic controller Jake (Scoot McNairy) has done well for himself too. Again, family ties form a strong foundation. However, something happens which brings these two lives into collision. From the trailer, you’ll gather enough information to decide whether this drama appeals to you or not.
For my part, words such as "extraordinary" and "deeply moving" seem frugal at best. Above all, Elliott Lester’s picture feels switched on, a model of inner conviction. There’s scant compromise regarding pain or how these men confront a world shaped by disaster. Yet rather than dwell on such things hopelessly, writer Javier Gullon has other ideas. While the subject matter could provoke bitter memories for viewers that have experienced similar drama, such honesty feels courageous.
Over in one corner, McNairy delivers a career crowning performance as the remorseful working man. From start to close, his journey promotes values such as conscience and potential rebirth.
Likewise, Schwarzenegger is incredible. It’s a joy to witness him moving away from the obvious and embracing his inner Brando. Whatever comes next cannot tarnish nor undermine the detail behind Aftermath.
(Released by Lionsgate Premiere and rated "R" for a scene of violence.)