Maggie (2015) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
13Jul/150

Maggie (2015)

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A mysterious disease spreads across the America.  First comes the darkened skin, then the loss of conscious thought, and finally a taste for flesh.  Maggie didn't want to burden her family when she contracts the disease, but her father Wade is not going to leave her to face the future alone.  Henry Hobson directs Maggie from a screenplay written by John Scott III and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin.

Just a product nowArnold Schwarzenegger versus the apocalypse.  Be it him versus an imperial army, or a death machine, it's a trope which has been so closely intertwined with his career from Conan on.  As many times as Schwarzenegger has saved us from certain destruction, he's aged in similar increments.  Now here he is in Maggie, still the hulk of a man introduced to the world in Pumping Iron, but those massive shoulders tire from carrying the weight of the world on them so often.

The Schwarzenegger we see in Maggie isn't a new Schwarzenegger, quite the contrary, it's the Schwarzenegger we've been working with since the beginning.  He's never had the greatest range as an actor, but he made the impossible possible in situations of escalating insanity time and again because of his sincerity.  It's this sincerity which brings conviction to his role as Wade Vogel, which already sounds like the hero of one of his films.  But the world of Maggie has no room for heroes, and the action Wade is capable of isn't enough to bring his daughter back from the disease which ravages her.

Schwarzenegger's timid performance is mimicked in the visuals, forcing perspective in a way which makes his daughter's problems loom greatly while his large frame fades into the background.

Schwarzenegger's timid performance is mimicked in the visuals, forcing perspective in a way which makes his daughter's problems loom greatly while his large frame fades into the background.

As great as Schwarzenegger is in Maggie, it's easy to see how this production would have worked without his lumbering manner of speech.  Director Henry Hobson, for lack of a better term, has brought us a kindler and gentler view of the apocalypse.  Yes, there are zombies around, but carrying remains of their humanity in ways which will surprise us.  He's more interested in how those left behind would deal with a cataclysmic event, and centers it wonderfully around Wade and his daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin).

The patience in the opening cut between Maggie's walk through the nearly empty city and Wade's view of his crops which have caught fire is lacking in most apocalyptic films, or even most proper dramas.  In their separate ways, they are regarding the collapse of civilization, be it the grand achievements of architecture or the sustenance-granting power of agriculture.  Their worlds are empty, far emptier than we would expect, and each sad conversation about what's coming and who they've lost punctuates the inevitability of Maggie's disease, as well as the fate of the rest of the world.  Of course, where there are zombies there are action scenes, but Hobson doesn't show Wade as a methodical killer.  Instead, he is framed in reflection, as though the action is an afterthought to survival, and he can only see how intense the moment is in retrospect.

John Scott III's screenplay allows itself detours to show how Maggie isn't about the destruction of the world, but the pain of a family asked to endure a loss they never should.  Caroline (Joely Richardson) has dreams about her daughter succumbing to the disease and eating the family.  When someone dies so young of an out of control disease, it's hard not to think it might spread to other members of the family, or lie in wait within their genetic code.  This is why Scott's screenplay allows Maggie a bit of selfishness as Caroline's dreams become indistinguishable from Maggie's infected fantasies.  If she has to have the disease, why not anyone else in her family?

Consider Wade, what events Scott's screenplay puts him through, and how they relate to Maggie's last nights.  Wade is forced to make a violent decision which destroys one family, just as his is being eaten alive from the inside out, all while Maggie makes pretend at a life she can't have with a cute boy whose flesh has taken on the same blackened hue as Maggie's.  The nuclear family, diseased from the start, spreads its infection to the land and ruins generations to come.  If there is any truth to the way previous generations complain about millennials it's exhibited in these slow passages of Maggie.  They ruined the world, and the youngest generation has to suffer for scraps.

Maggie allows brief consideration of how those afflicted with the disease may still be human, and the sickening crack of each death is a reminder of

Maggie allows brief consideration of how those afflicted with the disease may still be human, and the sickening crack of each death is a reminder of the ultimate lie of most action scenes - "killing is fun".

Which brings Schwarzenegger.  I listen to how out of breath he is when done struggling for his life.  I watch as he let's his body regain some confidence when telling his daughter he works on his truck because his truck is reliable.  I watch the despair in his face when he successfully fights off those who come to claim Maggie, but realizes she is only safe for one more night.  He is our action hero, our wonder from another land who came and wanted to make America great, but in the face of a true apocalypse he is as we all are - just another man with a ticking clock.

Wade and Maggie's lonely walks through the corridors of architecture and agriculture are reminders of the lives we take for granted.  Even those who gave us joy in heroism age and die some day.  Will we afford our heroes peace and support while comforting the families of those without their luxuries, of is the future one of limited resources and decay in the structures which once made us great?  Maggie gives herself to the future in those last scenes, but we wonder what her world might have been if Wade's generation prepared hers for what was to come.

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Tail - MaggieMaggie (2015)

Directed by Henry Hobson.
Screenplay written by John Scott III.
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin.

Posted by Andrew

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