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Deepwater Horizon - Movie Review

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Deepwater Horizon - Movie Review

4 starsMany of us recall seeing the horrendous images: oil-coated birds floundering in the surf; sticky brown suds washing ashore on the Gulf’s coast; blurry video images of oil gushing from the sea floor. That’s what we remember when someone brings up the Deepwater Horizon and its involvement in the worst off-shore oil rig accident in history.

But there’s another story. One we know very little about. It begins with knowing and understanding that aboard that massive deep-water drilling rig which suffered a devastating blowout and subsequent fire back in 2010, were humans. Humans who frantically struggled to prevent the disaster. Humans who helped others. Humans who lost their lives. And humans who put profit over people. That’s the story Peter Berg (Lone Survivor) tells in Deepwater Horizon, a film that is as painfully simple as it is intricately complex.

One of Berg’s biggest challenges comes in the need to familiarize the audience with the complicated process of oil drilling without focusing on too much of the mind-numbing minutiae, lest he lose us within the first 30 minutes. Conversely, speak down to us and we’ll walk out faster than a Battleship detractor.

Berg walks that tightrope masterfully as Deepwater Horizon is a well-orchestrated study of the contrasts between nature – with all its kinetic fury, and the precarious fragility of human kind. He honors the men and women killed and injured in the explosion, while also managing to throw in an equally effective dose of harrowing disaster drama. As a result, we are highly entertained, while never feeling as if the tragic events or memories of those lost have been cheapened or exploited.

Mark Wahlberg is Transocean chief electronics technician Mike Williams, a devoted family man in charge of the rig’s computer and electrical systems. We first meet Mike as he’s spending his last day with wife Felicia (Kate Hudson) and daughter Sydney (Stella Allen) before a 21-day deployment to the rig off the coast of Louisiana.

These tender family moments play nicely against the notoriously tough and gritty attributes needed to work on an oil rig. So when all hell breaks loose on the Deepwater following the blowout, we have a firm understanding of Mike’s motivations, when, rather than grab the first lifeboat to safety, he heads back into the fury to look for survivors. Wahlberg is totally believable as the rough-and-tumble roughneck who also springs into action when lives are at stake. The way in which he handles an honest moment with family after the adrenalin rush is over is what makes him perfect in the role. In case you needed to be further convinced by this guy’s talents, it’s yet another true Mark Wahlberg revelation.

As for secondary characters, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, and Kate Hudson hold their own despite being mostly under-utilized. Russell plays what is essentially the rig captain with a stern fatherly presence standing up to oil company execs who haphazardly administer minimal drill testing, while Malkovich mostly nails his cajun accent as an overly confident BP executive. Hudson represents the wives, mothers, and loved ones back on shore who are going through the living hell of being kept in the dark about what is happening. We feel for every loved one when the grief of hearing that some workers are jumping from the platform wracks Hudson’s face.

Berg mostly stays away from taking any political postures, instead choosing to focus on the human side of the tragedy. And it’s a better film because of that. Though many who were so deeply moved by the choking devastation wreaked upon our fragile ecosystem may come away a bit disappointed, Berg does quite blatantly paint the BP execs in a less than flattering light. Lovers of action will have plenty to cheer for as well. The white-knuckle suspense built up in the film’s first reel – emphasized by underwater shots of the bubbling sea floor – eventually gives way to a heart-pounding, all-out disaster flick in its closing act. Deepwater Horizon respects the selfless sacrifices made by those directly and indirectly involved in the industry, while still having plenty of unflattering things to say about the behaviors and attitudes that contributed to the disaster.

Deepwater Horizon - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for prolonged intense disaster sequences and related disturbing images, and brief strong language.
107 mins
: Peter Berg
Matthew Michael Carnahan
Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Douglas M. Griffin
: Drama | Action
When faced with our darkest hour, hope is not a tactic
Memorable Movie Quote: "Hope is not a tactic."
Theatrical Distributor:
Official Site:
Theatrical Release Date:
September 30, 2016
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
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.

No details available.


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