A WELL EXECUTED DRAMATIZATION OF ONE OF AMERICA’S MOST FRIGHTENING MAN-MADE DISASTERS EVER!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** out of 4
Something big is going down on the Deepwater Horizon
Director, Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, Hancock, Lone Survivor) reunites with white trash rapper turned talented actor, Mark Wahlberg (The Departed, Lone Survivor, Transformers: Age of Extinction) in their second feature film collaboration following the critically and commercially successful 2014 hit, Lone Survivor, based on the true story of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Technically this is a disaster film, which usually sounds like bad news written all over it, and besides the Dark Age of Movies is over.
Unlike other disaster films like Twister, Knowing, and the majority of Roland Emmerich’s directing career, Deepwater Horizon is a disaster film based on an actual disaster and you actually CARE for the people involved in the disaster, no cardboard cutout stereotypes in sight. The special effects are dazzling while frightening at the same time but they don’t overshadow the film’s story and characters, and it represents those who have survived and the lives that were lost on the Deepwater Horizon, nope Peter Berg did not pull a Michael Bay this time.
The film follows a group of oil diggers, Mike Williams (Wahlberg), Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell-Backdraft, Death Proof, Furious 7), Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich-Being John Malkovich, RED, Transformers: Dark of the Moon), Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez-Law & Order, The Bold and the Beautiful, Our Family Wedding), Caleb Holloway (Dylan O’Brien-Teen Wolf, The Internship, Maze Runner franchise), and Jason Anderson (Ethan Suplee-American History X, Dogma, The Wolf of Wall Street) on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico preparing to drill into the Gulf for oil. What follows is one of the biggest tragedies at sea, just moments after the Deepwater Horizon drills into the Gulf as a massive volume of mud floods the Deepwater Horizon, thus causing a gas leakage, and suddenly BOOM! The entire rig is about to meet its flaming demise.
So it’s up to Mike and Jimmy to find any survivors on the Horizon and bring them off the rig to safety before everyone dies in one of the biggest oil disasters in America.
Overall, Deepwater Horizon is a gripping and emotional biographical disaster film as well as a massive action thriller. This is basically what Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor movie should have been like, a visual spectacle plus intensity and an emotional journey, rather than a flashy light show, that makes two Peter Berg movies that I compare to Michael Bay, but this time it was for a positive reason.
When the oil spill, mud floods, and explosions happen, I was both stunned and frightened at the same time (and the fact that I saw it in IMAX probably didn’t help, but I digress!). It feels huge as you’re watching the movie on IMAX, the shots at sea, action, explosions, and drama all look and sound massive in the format.
I don’t normally get scared or disturbed when I’m watching a movie, but the realism and the way this disaster is depicted just had my mind blown, I was thrilled but also horrified if I was in the middle of all that, now that’s the sign of a good movie.
It also helps that the characters are developed well and you care for them all throughout the disaster. Nobody is really there just to die, when someone dies or gets fatally injured you feel for them and want to see them pull through and escape the Horizon.
September was a great month for biographical disaster films this year, I can’t recommend this and Sully enough, they’re both excellent dramatizations of actual events that just make you look and say “Wow”. Although I will say Tom Hanks in Sully is probably more engaging as a performance compared to Wahlberg in this, but you care enough for him to make it out alive, and it’s not at all a bad performance.
This is one of those “True Story” movies that feels very new as you’re watching the tragedy, reminds me a lot of Captain Phillips the more I think about it, just replace the Somali pirates with oil, mud, gas, and explosions. It’s a gripping, informative, and entertaining experience that must be seen to believe.