'Aftermath': Film Review

Not a fitting screen epitaph for the talented, fondly remembered Chris Penn

Thomas Farone's long-delayed crime thriller features the last screen performance by Chris Penn

That two of its leading actors passed away years ago is, unfortunately, the most intriguing element of Thomas Farone's crime thriller clearly influenced by the likes of Quentin Tarantino and the Coen brothers. Besides featuring the last screen performances of Chris Penn, who died in 2006, and veteran character actor Leo Burmester, who died a year later, Aftermath offers little to justify its obviously long-delayed theatrical release.

Anthony Michael Hall (recently seen in Foxcatcher) plays the lead role of Thomas Fiorini, a successful upstate New York real-estate developer about to have his first child with his beautiful wife (Elisabeth Rohm). His well-organized lifestyle suddenly becomes chaotic when his two top employees — unhappy head foreman Matt (Jamie Harold) and subcontractor Tony (Penn) — start competing to become top dog. A physical altercation breaks out between the two hotheads, and when Matt goes missing shortly afterward, Tony, who is promptly sacked, becomes the prime suspect.

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Thomas' resulting paranoia that Tony will seek revenge leads him to purchase a gun from a local gangster (Tony Danza, clearly relishing his tough-guy role), who also offers a more direct intervention. It doesn't turn out well, with Thomas soon becoming involved with a gallery of unsavory characters, including the local sheriff (Burmester) who has his own unique way of keeping the peace.

The film, which also features inconsequential appearances by the likes of Frank Whaley and Lily Rabe among others, doesn't contain a sufficiently compelling story to justify its feature-length running time. In an effort to overcome his script's narrative deficiencies, director-screenwriter Farone invests the proceedings with strained stylization, including the use of chapter headings and comic-book-style graphics.

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Featuring the sort of stock bad guys who ask, "Can I rape her?" about an intended female kidnapping victim, and who frequent strip clubs — what, they never go bowling? — the blandly titled film is too schematic to make much of an impact. The performers are mostly wasted, with Hall never quite managing to bring clarity to his ill-defined character and Penn, unconvincing as a badass, looking unfortunately unhealthy and severely overweight. The film features a dedication to the late actor during the end credits, but his fans would be better advised to revisit his fine work in such films as Reservoir Dogs and Short Cuts.

Production: Dolger Films, Ronin Films
Cast: Anthony Michael Hall, Chris Penn, Tony Danza, Elisabeth Rohm, Lily Rabe, Frank Whaley, Leo Burmester
Director/screenwriter/editor: Thomas Farone
Producers: Sylvia Caminer, Thomas Chestaro, Anthony Michael Hall, David Kitay, Michalina Scorzelli
Executive producers: Jonathan Brandstein, Thomas Farone
Directors of photography: Scott Beardslee, Thomas Farone
Production designer: Alex McCarroll
Costume designer: Linda Aseltine
Composer: David Kitay
Casting: Judy Henderson

Rated R, 84 minutes