Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Scoot McNairy, Maggie Grace
Directed By: Elliott Lester
Plot: A man (Schwarzenegger) loses his wife and pregnant daughter in an unfortunate airplane crash, and tries to piece his life back together while struggling to find answers. Meanwhile, the air traffic controller (McNairy) responsible for the tragedy has to live with the guilt, and struggles with finding a way to move forward.
What Works: Strong performances from Schwarzenegger and McNairy carry an otherwise uneven film. I understand why this film got buried. I can’t see this being a huge hit in theatres. It’s just part of the “New schwarzenegger” brand, where he has reinvented himself as a serious actor. I definitely was more impressed with his performance in Maggie, but I think he also turned in a solid performance here. He’s shown up a bit by McNairy, who really brings a range of complex emotions to his character. There’s an unease in his work, and the real feel of instability. He’s been a quickly up and coming actor, who has shown a lot of promise. That promise is fully realized here in a major role where he truly shines. Maggie Grace, for what its worth, is also pretty good as his struggling wife. The acting is definitely the biggest reason to watch this film.
What Doesn’t Work: I found the film score to be a bit heavy handed at times. Instead of allowing the film to have contemplative, silent moments, we’re reminded we’re always in a film by a score that is ever present. I don’t think there’s a moment in this film where I didn’t notice the score. It was never complementary, but rather very dominant and off putting. The film itself is ruined by its own ending. I would have cut off the last 15 minutes, and just ended the film earlier. It didn’t need the last tag at all, and the final product suffers because someone made the decision to push the film too far. The rest of the film is competently directed, but there’s nothing really astounding about the direction. It’s a dark film, and it is directed “darkly”. Using light sparingly, and choosing to have an omnipresent greyscale to the whole thing. That worked for Maggie. It doesn’t quite work here. Also, there’s a scene where McNairy is watching TV, and the show he’s watching is Felix The Cat. It took me so far out of the film, because I was wondering what network would actually show Felix the Cat at this point, and then I realized it was just lazy. Instead of trying to get the rights to show something contemporary, they went with public domain footage, and it definitely didn’t work for me.
Final Word: It’s not a bad film until the end, and it does feature some strong performances. However, the film is never really great, aside from the performances, and spends most of the time as a ffilm that is just OK. If you’re a fan of this new Schwarzenegger, who is really trying to give strong emotive performances, or McNairy, I’d say this film might be worth a watch. No one will remember McNairy at the end of the year, and that’s a shame. He’s really good in this.
Final Grade: B-