Synopsis: A story set on the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, which exploded during April 2010 and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
Review: Most people remember the event but few know the name of the oil rig, DEEPWATER HORIZON. The new film from director Peter Berg shows us what took place during those tragic hours and the crew that lived through a fiery hell. Part Towering Inferno and part Poseidon Adventure this action thriller graciously overcomes its many flaws. Just keep your eyes on Wahlberg and all will be fine.
Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) kisses his wife (Kate Hudson) goodbye as he hops on a helicopter to head back to work on the oil rig, Deepwater Horizon. The Chief Electronics Technician is joined by Installation Manager Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell), and Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez). When they arrive they are greeted by BP executives (John Malkovich) and discover that all the much needed safety tests have gone undone. A decision that will have devastating results just a few hours later.The explosion and aftermath of rescue and survival are the meat of this film and its sole redemption. Oh, and Mark Wahlberg.
The first half hour of the film is a mottled script of technical jargon and confusing discussions about who did or didn't do what. It is easy to understand the point of the opening scenes and luckily none of the dialogue matters after the action starts. The main point is a common one. Corporate executives cutting costs with no real idea or concern for the outcome. The crew know what needs to be done but the suits and ties do not want to hear it. It is a conversation that takes place in every office around the country. Bottom line: BP bad. Crew good. But the rig is not a respecter of persons and when its fury is unleashed it will take them all to the bottom with her.
Mark Wahlberg has the ability to make you like his character immediately. You instinctively trust him and hope that others will follow. Williams and Harrell are fed up with the execs but their hands are tied. Russell is perfect as the seasoned install manager who knows the job backwards and forward. It is up to these two to do what needs to be done once the proverbial feces and fan have their meeting.
Kate Hudson unfortunately gets the worst part of the script. The lines she is asked to read early on are cliche and dripping with Hollywood pulp. You hear the collective groan from the audience as she converses with her hubby. Thankfully they are quite few. She is redeemed later when you see her as the distraught wife watching the event on TV and wondering if she will ever see her husband alive. Malchovich is by far one of the greatest actors ever and he is forces here to take on some Cajun bayou accent that is as horrifying as the explosion itself. So much so that no more should be said about it.
Again once you get passed the initial setup of what should have been done the film takes on a whole different, and better, element. It becomes a fast paced catastrophe film that looks and feels like a shot for shot narrative of the real events. You are engulfed in the horror of smoke, fire, and melting iron. It is an edge of your seat white knuckler that holds you riveted until the final body is taken from the water.
While the event is true I am sure the writers took a few liberties with the characters interaction and participation. If you go back and read the actual case transcripts you can find some faults. But why would you? The film is correct in how it makes you feel and the anger that boils over against the company that allowed this to happen. It is the same aggravation that hit America when the event happened.
DEEPWATER HORIZON is rated PG-13 for prolonged intense disaster sequences and related disturbing images, and brief strong language. It is best suite for those 15 and up due to the horrific imagery and emotional moments. I give it 3.5 out of 5 told you so's. A solid action thriller that delivers where it needs to.