Taking inspiration from a hugely tragic chain of real life events, the creators of the deeply underplayed Everest turn their attentions to “Aftermath” – about the mental downfall of the air traffic controller involved in causing a mid-air plane crash and a family member of one of the families killed whom is left reeling. Whilst it means well – the whole film is too internalised to real elevate it into lofty heights.
Released : 2017
Run time : 1 hr 34 mins
Based on the Überlingen mid-air collision, which happens off-screen, we follow the sad true story of a family man driven to such despair and torture that he ends up taking the law into his own hands to get the apology the air industry did not give.
“Aftermath” is slow. Very slow. It’s also focused on mood setting rather than actual story telling. So instead of having a character has a complete meltdown – we are treated to constant still frames of pained facial expressions and slow pans across a room towards someone. These kinds of shots work really well when used to crank tension or interwoven with other methods, but here that’s all there is. As a result, the retelling of what is a very traumatic experience for all involved is lost in a sea of stares – and sadly Arnold Schwarzenegger can only do a couple of pained expressions. The film is very much divided into two tales and Arnie’s is the least satisfying – and the least well acted. Scoot McNairy and, when she’s on-screen, Maggie Grace, absolutely power house their performances in a variety of ways. McNairy, as the broken air traffic controller who made a fatal mistake under slightly stacked circumstances, runs the gambit of horror, disbelief, misery and loss. In many ways, its his story – but Arnie is given all the stare time and that weighs this film down.
The little effects that are used are all produced well. There is a post crash site that is suitably managed and chilling and I wish more had been focused on that time of events – along with the memorial section later in the film. It would have helped give the emotional gravitas the film needed.
Why It’s Worth Watching
As a true story, it is a fairly good telling of events from the traffic controller side of affairs but it doesn’t labour any of the points that stack up against things. For actual details of the crash and the memorial however, I’ve seen air crash investigation documentaries that give a much better insight, so without that knowledge I’d imagine many viewers would be less connected to the film. McNairy and Grace are superb actors and display their chops here. Arnie on the other hand does not carry himself as well. I can’t tell if it’s because he has to keep staring at the camera all the time that limits his performance, or if that really is his acting ceiling. It’s not bad – it’s just the rest are in a league above. It’s also an interesting cautionary tale and discussion piece after for two reasons. Firstly, corporate apologies and they how in order to not accept responsibility as a company for an accident, the film slants it that their handling of affairs sends Arnie off down the path of revenge and turmoil. Secondly – it’s a really moral grey area. Does an honest mistake from a good person that just happens to cost lives get treated in the same manner because we know that person is good? I can imagine some people siding with Arnie on looking for revenge too.
Every. Camera. Stare. ARGH!
Arnie after being given some food from his co-worker doing a really, really awkward “I’ve got things to do – bye” brush off to his friend. It’s the only sub par piece of acting in this film but its a real clanger.
I strangely did not have one for this film because everyone is equally damaged or corporate in their own way.
The film is inspired and closely follows the Überlingen mid-air collision disaster of 2002. A cargo plane and a passenger jet collide mid-air but the incident was so much more painful because about 70 of the passengers were children on a school trip. Although referenced in the film, the memorial was inspired by Arnie’s real life counterpart whose wife was killed in the crash. Her necklace of pearls became a scattered collection of pearl like marble pieces that are dotted around the memorial site.
Aftermath buckles under its own weight by design. It needed more outward acting and less moody face shots – alongside a bit more info with the crash itself – to be more successful.