Arnold Schwarzenegger has always been an action star. He's rarely strayed from his niche, which is what made his turn as a widower in Aftermath so intriguing to me. He'd teased dramatic performances in the past but always in films that were primarily action thrillers. He's easily the best part of this movie, which is so damn sad from beginning to end. My biggest issue with it is that it relies too heavily on grief in place of conflict or character development. We're basically just watching two characters who had their emotional guts ripped out wallow in self-pity for an hour and a half.
Roman Melnyk (Schwarzenegger) is a construction worker eagerly awaiting the arrival of his wife and daughter from Kiev. Meanwhile, we meet air traffic controller Jacob (McNairy), whose small screw-up leads to a mid-air collision that kills Roman's family and hundreds of others. Jacob is demonized in the press, falls into depression, attempts suicide, and ultimately changes his name and flees. Roman's grief turns to anger and rage towards those responsible, and he goes after Jacob. But this doesn't happen until the last twenty minutes. In fact, it takes a year of sadness for Roman to finally hunt Jacob down. Despite being only an hour and a half, I feel like they could've done more.
Arnold Schwarzenegger proves that he is far more versatile than we all thought he was. Turns out Mr. Freeze can act. He's fully believable as a grieving husband and father, never once going too far or cheesy or overly dramatic. I just wish the story was more interesting and engaging. Aftermath isn't bad, but it doesn't feel like a complete movie.