Aronofsky’s new drama ‘Aftermath’ provides Schwarzenegger with a return to respectability


The trailer for the Darren Aronofsky-produced, Elliott Lester-directed drama Aftermath dropped yesterday, and if those two names aren’t enough to sell you to watch this, you might want to check your pulse after this: It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger in a really interesting role.

No, really.

Schwarzenegger’s great in roles like these, and they’ve only gotten better with his age.

As Schwarzenegger’s gotten older, he’s gone down a different path than some of his contemporaries; he’s not like Sly, who’s spent the last several years trading off of the strength of his old characters (see: Creed, Rambo) or shamelessly banking off the fantasies of DTV action aficionados (The Expendables series). Nor has he descended into outright self-parody, like Jean-Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal, and he hasn’t given up and decided to make five of the same movies each year to pay the mortgage, like Dolph Lundgren or Bruce Willis. No, Arnie’s been taking risks, and that hasn’t guaranteed him any success at the box office.

The most interesting and accessible of his late-period films, the bonkers The Last Stand and the David Ayer-helmed modern camp classic Sabotage, flopped miserably, and his attempts at pairing up with Stallone have been mediocre, if not outright disasters. It’s the indies where he truly shines, not just as a star but as a legitimate actor — 2014’s Maggie is beautiful American gothic zombie horror, and it’s enhanced emotionally by watching a figure of intense masculinity like Schwarzenegger at his weakest, at his most conflicted.

Aftermath looks to continue that streak of Schwarzenegger dramas that surprise and amaze. In this, he plays a dad whose family is killed when an air traffic controller (the always-interesting Scoot McNairy) makes a mistake that causes two planes to collide in mid-air. Schwarzenegger wants an apology, wants someone to understand that his wife and daughter meant more to him than a numbers in a court settlement, and McNairy wants to escape both the guilt and the hatred thrown his way by a public that refuses to understand or forgive. And because of all this, they’re put on a collision course that will change both of their lives. To be frank, the initial setup sounds a little like the end of the second season of Breaking Bad, but we’re confident that this’ll be different enough so the “there is nothing new under the sun” crowd won’t start bleating about it.

Hey, if it was good enough for Darren Aronofsky, it’s good enough for you.

So while Celebrity Apprentice and Mobile Strike ads pay the bills, we hope that Schwarzenegger continues to make movies like Aftermath and Maggie, and keeps choosing absolutely ridiculous projects that only a dude like him could pull off.

Aftermath hits in theaters and releases on your preferred VOD platform April 7.