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Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/6/2017
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/8/2017
It would be a wild understatement to say that Hollywood likes to play it safe. The majority of mainstream movies aim for the middle and even when they offer emotions, things never get too extreme. Sure, plenty of "dark" movies are made, but a lot of things work out in the end or, even if they don't, we somehow feel separated from it. It's rare that we see a movie which doesn't seem to mind hitting the audience over the head with depressing moments and even wandering into a place which could be called bleak. This happens in Aftermath, a movie which is so familiar that it's somewhat surprising.
Roman Melynk (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a hard-working, mild-mannered construction supervisor. As the film opens, he's quite buoyant, as his wife and daughter are returning from a trip to Europe. He heads for the airport, where he's taken aside and lead to an office. The story then shifts to Jacob Bonanos (Scoot McNairy), an air-traffic controller. While left alone in the control tower, Jacob must deal with multiple planes at once, running back and forth between screens. We then learn that two plans collided and Roman's family was aboard one of them. The film then continues to follow the two men. Roman finds himself in a daze, the grief consuming his life. He rejects the airline's offer for help and sits at home by himself. Meanwhile, Jacob is labeled a murderer, and finds himself alienated from his wife and son (Maggie Grace & Judah Nelson). As Jacob attempts to put his life back together, Roman finds himself more and more obsessed with the accident and what he can do to set things right.
Obviously, Schwarzenegger isn't the movie star that he was thirty years ago, but he does continue to work. However, I was still surprised to how Aftermath seemingly came out of nowhere. Maggie Grace and Scoot McNairy and the kid who played Ron Burgundy's son may not be household names, but they're recognizable, so this almost qualifies for my "I've heard of these people, why haven't I heard of this movie?" list. In a world where we are bombarded by more movies than ever due to home video, on-demand, and streaming services, it's not 100% surprising that a movie featuring a well-known actor could just suddenly show up like this. What is surprising is that Aftermath is actually pretty good.
While Aftermath presents a semi-novel story, it's the film's approach which makes it work. Screenwriter Javier Gullon has given the story a structure which helps to circumvent the familiarity of the some of the movie. As note above, the first act is split into two distinct sections. We meet Roman and Jacob individually in what appears to be separate stories (although, the fact that Roman was pulled aside at the airport let's us know that something is up). Following this first part, the film follows them individually as they both deal with this tragedy in their own way. The interesting thing is how they parallel -- Roman lost his family and stopped going to work, while Jacob lost his job and became alienated from his family. Eventually, we know that these two stories are going to intersect, the question is, how? When that intersection comes, it is quite shocking and Director Elliot Lester does a good of throwing off of the scent.
Even with this twist, the bulk of Aftermath comes across as a riff on things which we've seen before. The other thing which sets the movie apart is the tone. Obviously, any movie which opens with a plane crash probably isn't a comedy, but Aftermath has the guts to keep spiraling downward showing how this event effected these two men. The very end may offer a slight glimmer of hope, but most of it is quite dark. As for Schwarzenegger, it's interesting how he's taken such a turn to drama in recent years. With this film andMaggie, he seems to be atoning for the ridiculous movies he made in the 80s. However, there's no atoning for Arnold's wardrobe here. Who picked out those clothes? Cosby sweaters aside, Aftermath is a solid drama which isn't afraid to take things (almost) to the extreme.
Aftermath gives me yet another reason to not travel on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 27 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good, although we don't get many bright tones here, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good, as if the depth. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.6 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track is an exercise in loud and soft. There are many quiet scenes, which will suddenly be interrupted by a flashback of the plane going down. The plane sounds fill the rear speakers and drive the subwoofer. We also get some notable stereo effects with sounds coming from off-screen.
The Aftermath Blu-ray Disc contains only a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Elliot Lester and Producer Eric Watson. We then have "Interviews with Director Elliot Lester and Director of Photography Pieter Vermeer" (7 minutes) in which the two (who are interviewed separately) discuss the story and the look of the film. The final extra is a TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long