My weekly movie reviews. You can also read these on letterboxd.

This week focuses on three films Arnold Schwarzenegger made after he was governor.


Maggie (2015)

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

With Maggie and Aftermath, Arnold proved that he could play a dramatic role. The action star really challenged himself with these pair of films, especially with this zombie tale.

His performance is the reason to watch the movie. It’s an Arnold we’ve never seen before: subdued, introspective, and emotional. I admire him for taking on such a role and trying to transition to more dramatic work in his later years however the transition was too swift. Giving fans no Arnold moments and little to no action to hang onto, I can see why this film and the other were not very successful. If I were his friend or manager, I would have advised him to do an in-between picture, something with just enough with fans of the old Arnold and also dramatic weight, to transition to this kind of work. Instead, he went from throwback films like The Last Stand (a lot of fun) and Sabotage (terrible) to this.

The film has two other problems. First, it has no humor. In my experiences, even the most tragic circumstances have some humorous moments but this film has no levity. It’s dreary tone is too one note for me. In addition, it feels like a straight-out-of-film-school effort with a big star injected into the mix. Something about the production just doesn’t feel professional and so there’s an imbalance.

Again, I admire Schwarzenegger for taking this on but I wish the final result was stronger.

Watched on Tubi.


Aftermath (2017)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

The better of the two dramatic films Arnold made back-to-back, Aftermath further proves that the action star can carry a film without action. As mentioned in my Maggie review, I think he miscalculated when drifting this far away from what his fans expect, instead of finding a middle ground first.

Aftermath, though very serious, is also less dreary than Maggie and more professionally produced, though I still feel the dark tone could use some moments of levity for balance. Arnold is matched with another good actor, Scott McNairy who is always reliable. Their performances are matched unequally with a script that certainly disturbs but never succeeds in telling a complete story about grief and loss.

Though flawed, this is a solid drama and I respect Arnold for making the leap to try something completely different than his past work.

Watched on Tubi.


Escape Plan (2013)

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Of all the films Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger have made since their heyday, Escape Plan might be the closest to the style and tone of those classics. Unfortunately, it suffers from a weak script and a misuse of its talent.

Working with a great concept that feels like a riff on the prison sequence from Face Off, this action vehicle has a lot of potential. Add to that a strong ensemble cast, from the two action stars to supporting parts for Jim Caviezel, Vinnie Jones, and even Sam Neill, and you have an essemble that could be the best genre cast in recent memory. But the dialog is dumb. Whoever wrote Escape Plan seems to have put zero thought into its characters’ words and the things they say are a stupid imitation of old one-liners. The direction doesn’t help either, keeping everything superficial and leaning only on the film’s escape plot instead of developing the people. Basically, Escape Plan is a throwback to the great action films of the 80s and 90s without realizing what made them great.

I personally would have cast Arnold as the warden. As much fun as it is to see him pair up with Stallone, they don’t have much on screen chemistry and I think there would have been more sparks if they were at odds. Caviezel, a good actor who is capable of many things, is not truly a villain type and a wasted Vincent D’Onofrio is another character actor whose potential is not taken advantage of here.

Yes, it’s a watchable, entertaining action/thriller but I’m looking for more, especially when the potential for a much better film is apparent.

Watched on HBO Max.