Hot Take: Compelling recount of the harrowing tale of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. This Peter Berg/Mark Wahlberg team produces some solid viewing.
Before the movie, the story of Deepwater Horizon wasn’t one I was familiar with. My guess is I heard of it when it occurred but didn’t pay attention enough to commit any details to memory. The Peter Berg directed “based on true events” disaster flick makes sure you pay attention and firmly points the finger at the big oil company for why such a disaster could occur. From beginning to end, the film’s pacing and detailed visuals of the disaster intertwining spectacular effects with some real life video mixed in make for both a strong indictment of BP Oil and a human interest piece about those who were injured and, in some cases, lost their lives due to the disaster.
Mark Wahlberg leads an ensemble cast and the gripping tale of the real life disaster upon an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico overshadows any performance in the film. It’s action packed and filled with cautionary tales of Big Oil trying to cut costs while risking the safety of its workers. While there are plenty of recognizable faces and a few decent scenes building up to the disaster, the film is really taken over by the harrowing explosions and devastating carnage of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The explosion that killed 11 crewmen also caused the biggest oil spill in U.S. waters.
While Deepwater Horizon is compelling, there’s not a ton of substance to the disaster flick. There’s an extended look at Mike Williams (Wahlberg). The audience gets to know him before the disaster as he spends time with his wife (Kate Hudson) and daughter (Stella Allen). Outside of that, there’s very little character development as the focus is on the disaster and the corners cut by Big Oil in the moments leading up to the explosion.
If anything, Deepwater Horizon does a respectable job maintaining the feel of an action/disaster flick while honoring the memory of those lost and displaying the courage of those who survived. There are moments where the film feels almost Titanic-like in its depictions of some of the more shameful characters in the film and it doesn’t hurt the score has contributions from the late James Horner. If you’re looking for a movie where the intensity is turned up to white-knuckle level for more than 80% of the film, then Deepwater Horizon is the one you want to see.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
This pairing works so well together. It’s hard to imagine the duo not making at least a competent film every time out.
- John Malkovich’s Accent
You thought his Russian accent in Rounders was something. Wait until you get a load of this.
- The Catastrophic Visuals
It’s an impressive work of visual hell as the rig engulfs in flame and explodes. It’s hellacious to watch and hard to imagine how scary these moments were for the survivors.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- It’s Too Intense?
At times, Deepwater Horizon is overwhelming. The disaster aspect and the familiarity it has to other fictional films makes it disturbing when you realize this actually happened.
Because it is based in reality, the movie can never have the fun other films have with disasters. It also never achieves the emotional capacity others do because the spectacle of the catastrophe steals the show. Sometimes you just don’t know how to feel about what you’re watching.