Film Review: “Deepwater Horizon” (2016)

“Deepwater Horizon” (2016)


Drama/Action/True Story

Running Time: 107 minutes

Director: Peter Berg

Featuring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Kate Hudson, John Malkovich, Ethan Suplee, Gina Rodriguez, Dylan O’Brien

Donald Vidrine: “We a big company, millions of moving parts. We all work very hard to ensure those moving parts are functioning as a means to a very profitable win for all of us.”

Mark Wahlberg and Director Peter Berg’s second film together after 2014’s excellent “Lone Survivor”, which saw a band of special forces soldiers trapped behind enemy lines in Afghanistan, a seemingly hopeless situation of escaping, even though outnumbered and cut off from rescue or back-up. This latest film sees them reteam for another true story, this time telling the true story of the 2010 disaster which occured on the oil rig Deepwater Horizon, causing the biggest oil spill in US history.

The films plot takes place on 20th April 2010, when a blowout and explosion on the oil rig irreparably damages and sinks the platform, releasing thousands of gallons of petroleum into the ocean. The movie follows Michael ‘Mike’ Williams (Mark Wahlberg), and Caleb Holloway (Kurt Russell), two of more than 120 crew members on board. We witness Mike helping rescue some of their ship mates, while his family back home deals with the fallout of the disaster. Interestingly, the film does not play like a drama, but instead an action movie and Berg pulls this of with real believability. It is to his credit that he has the budget and the talent to make a really great and moving film about the tragedy that occurred on that fateful day, and you come away thinking about the waste and carnage that has had an effect not just on the crews but many many others over the intervening years.

This is the second part of an unofficial trilogy with this, the aforementioned “Lone Survivor” and next years “Patriots Day”, once again a true story about loss and something that shocked the world as and when it happened – the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings.

All three of these films have many things in common besides the people involved, they also seem to be about events that have changed all those in their vicinity, as well as entering the US national consciousness for some time. They also seem to revolve around men in intensely stressful situations where ,they overcome the relevant obsticlies and danger to various degrees of success. The more inward looking these stories the more successful the protagonists, particularly I imagine with next years “Patriot’s Days”.

In the meantime back to “Deepwater Horizon”, for a simple plot and narrative it is actually full of some complex information, particularly in terms of why the disaster occurred – of course BP and its employees get the brunt of the blame and it is only the crew of the rig that are the voices of reason. This is actually what happened and we learn that the bosses did face manslaughter charges – although these were later dropped – lucky for them I guess.

The performances are all excellent and it is Wahlberg and Kurt Russell who steal the show with performances by superstars, turning into real people who had real responsibilities, and they pull it off with such ease you forget you are watching a film. Peter Berg has to be praised and his direction is excellent and it is great after the speed bump that was the disaster of his last big budget film “Battleship” (2012),.

The main part of the film is the actual disaster and this will lead you breathless and wonder how most of the crew made it out alive – and you will also see some of the crew representing humanity at its best – risking life and limb for their friends and co-workers in ways that will make you question how you would behave in a similar situation – of course the truth is we will never have to face that question in reality.

This is a truly great film and coming on the heels of “Sully” it is refreshing to see people that think about others before themselves, something we could all take a lesson from.

This film is highly recommended to all.

If you enjoyed this try:

“Sully” (2016)

“Lone Survivor” (2014)

“Friday Night Lights” (2004)

“Boogie Nights” (1997)

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