Deepwater Horizon, 2016.
Directed by Peter Berg.
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriquez, Dylan O’Brien, Kate Hudson and John Malkovich.
On April 20th, 2010, the world’s largest man-made disaster occurred on the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. Directed by Peter Berg (Lone Survivor), this story honors the brave men and women whose heroism would save many on board, and change everyone’s lives forever.
Who knew that mud exploding everywhere like diarrhea from a constipated person out of pipes could violently throw around human beings like rag dolls, giving them whiplash in the process? After seeing Deepwater Horizon, one might develop a phobia of simply being around pipes and the like for fear that they could explode at any second. I for damn sure am never stepping foot on any oil rig, especially after witnessing the morally corrupt business tactics by British Petroleum, that essentially said fuck all to safety protocol, because as we all know the green dollar rules all.
And what makes this action oriented dramatization of the worst oil spill in history resonate so hard is the 45 minutes or so before all of the explosions of mud and fire, where the audience get to see the crew of the titular Deepwater Horizon work on the oil rig and interact among each other with a great degree of camaraderie. While watching this film there is a sense that all of these hard-working men and women are humanized to the point that we could see ourselves joking around with them on the job. We care about these people when their lives are suddenly endangered. That even goes for the extremely buff Mark Wahlberg, who handles most of the heroics once everything goes south. Sure, it’s cliche that he is a family man, but to the credit of director Peter Berg he doesn’t dwell on this plot point to the feeling of easy emotional manipulation on the audience.
As previously mentioned, there is quite a bit of setup before the unequivocally intense extended action sequence that rounds out nearly an hour of the movie, so it does help that many of the characters are having a bit of light-hearted fun while Chief Electronics Technician Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) and his superior played by Kurt Russell bicker with British Petroleum (one of the negligent higher-ups is also played by a very snarky John Malkovich) using technical jargon that may go over the head of some viewers. At one point Mark Wahlberg rattles off a number of problems with the oil rig hilariously at a high frequency, reminiscent to a certain scene in Ted.
Once the whole operation goes to hell however, the results are an experience that demands to be viewed on the largest screen possible. Deepwater Horizon is one of those movies that should not be missed in theaters, as that sound system and level of high definition will make the sight of Mark Wahlberg along with the rest of the brave souls on board frantically dodging explosions at an alarming rate, or Kurt Russell digging glass out of his body that much more riveting to behold. I also have no idea how this movie got away with a PG-13 rating, as there are some very graphic visuals pertaining to all of the injuries that the crew sustain. Characters are literally covered in blood throughout the whole movie
Deepwater Horizon also needs to be applauded for its approach to presenting the chaos occasionally in a deliberately confusing manner that mimics what the passengers are experiencing themselves, but never spiraling out of control to a point where it is impossible to tell what is going on at all. There are also quite a few pulled back shots of explosions on the oil rig from afar that are beautifully terrifying in a fireworks on the 4th of July fashion, along with some nifty tracking shot underwater views of the catastrophic damage.
Yes, there are few cheesy elements to the proceedings, like the overabundance of making absolutely certain an American flag is caught waving in the distance during so many outside visuals, or one character being afraid of heights just to give Mark Wahlberg some incredibly heroic things to say and do, but at the end of the day this is spectacular disaster event film-making that thrills. Eat your heart out Roland Emmerich. Mark Wahlberg is also Oscar-worthy, especially when delivering a noteworthy PTSD scene following the whole life or death nightmarish experience. The effects of this disaster are still felt today, and Deepwater Horizon does an astonishing job at paying tribute to those that suffered because of greed.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★