Though it may seem so, not all Arnold Schwarzenegger movies are the same. The man who practically invented the testosterone-filled badass action movies in the ‘80s has found a new way to hit audiences and one of those films is climbing the Netflix charts, sitting as the #3 most-watched on the streaming service.
Aftermath is a tragic tale of ultimate loss, ultimate grief, pain and suffering, and ultimate revenge. The story, based on a true-life tragic event, is not a pleasant one, which may be why the film didn’t get much run time.
Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Roman Melnyk, a construction worker who is at the airport to greet his wife Olena and their pregnant daughter Nadiya, who are returning home from vacation. Roman’s wife and daughter never arrive. Their flight, AX 112, was involved in a mid-air collision, killing the two pilots on one plane and all 271 passengers aboard flight AX 112.
While that is playing out, we now see the other side of the story. It involves Jake Bonanos, an air traffic controller on duty the night of the tragic crash. Jake is forced to take over two jobs at once when one of his co-workers goes off for a coffee break. While attempting to do both, also dealing with down phone lines, Jake watches in horror as both planes disappear from his radar.
Roman goes to the crash site posing as a volunteer. There he finds his daughter’s necklace, as well as the bodies of both his wife and daughter. Jake, who is not held responsible by investigators for the crash, blames himself for the tragedy, causing strain in his relationship with his wife and son. Tessa Gorbett is a journalist who wishes to write a book about the incident. She approaches Roman, who rebuffs her request.
In the meantime, the airlines offer Roman, as well as the other families affected, to pay for medical and mental healthcare as well as $85,000 for his wife and $75,000 for his daughter. Offended, Roman refuses.
Distraught and full of grief, Roman reaches out to Tessa. He asks her to track down Jake, who has moved to a new state and changed his name. Tessa does, telling Roman Jake has changed his name and occupation but she refuses to give Roman his whereabouts. Eventually, though, she gives in. Roman then travels to where Jake lives, wanting only one thing. An apology. Does Jake offer one?
As mentioned, Aftermath is based on the true-life tragic story that involved a Russian man named Vitaly Kaloyev and an air traffic controller named Peter Nielsen. The set-up was similar – Kaloyev was at the airport where he was to meet his wife and two young children. They never arrived.
Nielsen was cleared of all wrongdoing but in Kaloyev’s eyes, he was guilty of murder. Kaloyev suffered a serious mental breakdown, during which time he tracked down Nielsen at his home and in the doorway, in front of Nielsen’s wife and children, Kaloyev stabbed Nielsen to death.
For his crime, Kaloyev was sentenced to eight years in prison but served only three years. Elliott Lester directed the film and remarked via People, “There were no moments of light for Vitaly, and there are no moments of light in the film either,” says Lester. “There’s no hope. When you lose absolutely everything, I don’t know how you come out of that level of grief.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger, king of the action film (with all due respect to Sly Stallone and the like), is now 74-years-young. When he took on the role of Roman in Aftermath, it was a calculated attempt to ease out of action roles. In fact, two years earlier, he starred in another smaller film, Maggie, where he played the father of a daughter who was slowly turning into a zombie.
Both films, though, never struck the proper chord for Arnold Schwarzenegger fans. Most only still see him, even at his age, as the action star they once knew, and accepting him as anything else is a tough pill to swallow.
Arnold Schwarzenegger followed up Aftermath with Killing Gunther, a return to his action roots, but it didn’t sit well with critics or fans. He then had a cameo in Iron Mask before returning to the Terminator franchise in the 2019 feature Terminator: Dark Fate.
Arnie seems to have put those smaller movies behind him for now as his next few projects are big ones. Up next for the strongman is his long-awaited sequel to Twins, called Triplets, that will see Arnold Schwarzenegger reprise his role as Julius Benedict alongside Danny DeVito, who returns as his twin brother Vincent. They will be joined by another brother, Eddie Murphy.
After that, Arnold Schwarzenegger takes another journey to past glory as he will star in The Legend of Conan. Then, for the first time, Arnie looks to star in his own TV series, Outrider, a show that has Arnold playing a deputy in the late 19th century whose job it is to track down a legendary outlaw in Oklahoma Indian Territory. He is forced to ride alongside a ruthless Federal Marshall, who’s there to make sure justice is properly served.
For now, if you’re into depressing material, check out Arnie in Aftermath. You can find it on Netflix.