Saturday, October 01, 2016

Deepwater Horizon

Year: 2016
Director: Peter Berg
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Kate Hudson, Dylan O'Brien, Gina Rodriguez

Plot: Based on the true story of the Deepwater Horizon, an offshore oil rig off the coast of Louisiana that exploded in April 2010, creating the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Review: This film is about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, though it focuses more on the crew of the oil rig who survived the disaster that day.

Deepwater Horizon is seen mostly through the eyes of Mike Williams, Chief Electronics Technician of the rig, who gets caught in the disaster with the rest of his crew when a gas leak ignited and a massive explosion and fire engulfs the entire rig. The film begins with an introduction to the crew, followed by what they did on that day beginning with safety tests, then the disaster hits and what they went through to survive.

Director Peter Berg, who once again cameos in his own film, successfully paints his characters as regular Americans who work hard for their keep, but are willing to help each other during the worst of times despite being totally fearful of not surviving the night. As stated, this isn't about the oil spill but the bravery of the men who lived to tell the tale.

The cast do a great job here, especially Mark Wahlberg as Mike, showing him to be a blue collar worker who loves his wife and daughter, yet willing to risk his life to save his colleagues. Kurt Russell is also solid as rig manager Jim Harrell, while Russell's stepdaughter Kate Hudson puts in a brief yet strong performance as Mike's wife. John Malkovich is alright as the profit minded BP boss, but his southern accent is rather dodgy.

The best parts of the film are obviously the disaster scenes. When oil and mud start shooting out of the drill, it looks pretty damn scary and you'd be convinced that the rig is the last place you would want to be at the time. The subsequent explosion was also well executed and shot by Berg and his crew, as well as the chaos that followed. Another thing worth mentioning is a scene at the beginning where Mike's daughter rehearses a show and tell project at home, using a Coke can to demonstrate how her father drills for oil. It's a fitting precursor of what's to come.

However, the film does take quite some time to get going, as the incident doesn't happen till almost halfway through. Some of the interior camerawork after the explosion was either shaky or poorly lit, making it hard to see who's doing what, or who we're looking at. Also, if you've seen Berg's Lone Survivor, you'd notice that he filmed this almost like that film. Intro, story, survival, real people pictures and acknowledgement at the end, in that sequence. It works of course, but the similarity could have been tweaked a bit.

Nevertheless, Deepwater Horizon is an astounding effort in telling a disaster story. It isn't the best disaster film out there, but it's one worth checking out. (7/10)   

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