Deepwater Horizon is a biographical disaster film directed by Peter Berg, the director of Lone Survivor and Battleship, and stars Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, and Kate Hudson.
The film is a retelling of the disaster that took place on The Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig on April 20, 2010. An uncontrollable blowout causes a massive explosion that kills 11 people working on the rig. The blowout also began what was the largest oil spill in U.S. history. In the film, Mark Wahlberg plays Mike Williams, a worker on the Horizon who takes charge in helping everyone escape from the rig to safety.
Deepwater Horizon does something that disaster movies very rarely do; strike you with an emotional bullet that will leave you with little to no words as you exit the theater. The fact that this is a retelling of an actual disaster is what makes the film all the more impactful. Our actors all play real people that survived the explosion, but their character traits are not emphasized. The emotional depth lies in the magnitude of the disaster itself.
- The beginning of the disaster sequence. The entire second half of the film showcases all the surviving workers attempting to escape, but when the blowout begins is where the movie really snatches your attention. It starts when one of the workers notices oil leaking out of one of the pipes, and just seconds later, geysers of oil spring up, sending the workers flying in various directions. The now oil-painted workers desperately try to control the blowouts, but the situation quickly gets out of hand. The oil then continues to shoot up and begins to send gas throughout the giant tower, which triggers the giant explosion (there's a bunch of meticulous details involved with how it all works). I sat and was stunned watching all of this play out, as if I was watching a live recording of the actual event. The workers can't just run for their lives, and the blowout escalates so quickly that you can't help but watch and feel rattled.
- Mark Wahlberg. He handles his role quite well, and I suspect that Wahlberg was a little out of his comfort zone in this film. Wahlberg is no giant action star, but the way he was able to handle his character in the midst of an emotional and horrifying disaster has to be commended. He never panics, and bravely takes charge in helping several other men, including Kurt Russell's character, get to safety. Wahlberg also has a few humorous moments, one being when he is talking with one of his coworkers and suspects him of going into his office and messing with his things. He shows some OCD and asks, "Did you touch my stuff? You better not have touched my stuff!" He later goes into his office and rearranges some things that obviously were touched and moved, grumbling about it under his breath. Overall, Wahlberg presents a character we can get behind and show sympathy, knowing how desperately he wants to live and get home back to his wife and daughter, who fear for his life when they learn about the explosion.
- The movie annoyingly teases you as to when the blowout and explosion will take place. Some of the workers run a negative pressure test which doesn't result the way they hoped, and you would think, okay things are starting to go wrong, which must mean the actual disaster is right around the corner, when in reality, we still have to wait a little bit longer. Several times beforehand, we see shots of the seabed around the pipe underwater, and we see bubbles (okay I don't think they are actually bubbles, but that's what it looked like) begin to spring up, obviously hinting at the danger soon to come. The film also takes quite a while with its narrative exposition, and after long enough, you might begin to grow impatient.
The emotional impact of Deepwater Horizon is one rarely touched upon by disaster movies. Characterization is not of importance in the film, because it more so wants you to understand and feel the same grief and heartbreak that took place when the disaster happened back in 2010. The end credits features interviews with some of the actual survivors, as well as showing photos of the 11 men who lost their lives in the incident. There may be little to no words that come to your mind when you leave the theater. Deepwater Horizon is very much so one of the most heartfelt films of 2016.
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