When faced with extraordinary circumstances every second counts. With Peter Berg’s Deepwater Horizon, the seconds and minutes tick by with such force that we feel what the men felt that fateful day. Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, and Gina Rodriguez lead the film and each character feels real because they are. The story begins when testing is being conducted on the infamous BP oil rig, Deepwater Horizon, everything seems right according to Daniel Vidrine (John Malkovich) who blows off the oil workers and cares more about the production value of making money despite the concerns from Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) of the rig’s safety and overall working conditions.
Before all hell is unleashed on the rig we are taken to the home of Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) an electronics technician who is aware of the safety concerns and even has a private conversation with Vidrine detailing his honest concerns of the rig, but behind his demeanor, he has no respect for corporate who clearly have only one thing on their mind and it isn’t safety. While preparing to leave for 21 days he has breakfast with his family; Felicia (Kate Hudson) and his little daughter Sydney (Stella Allen). Little Sydney tells a story that she wrote for school about what her dad does for a living and even shows us how everything works. It’s a clever use of foreshadowing.
Once onboard the rig, tests are being conducted and we can see the level of frustration on Jimmy’s face. They are already 43 days behind production and corporate wants the rig to start yesterday. It’s interesting to see how Peter Berg shows us the issues far down below on the ocean floor. We know that something terrible is going to happen, it’s just a matter of time. When the initial explosion does occur, we feel the sheer force of the destruction. Crew members are flung like rag dolls, people can hardly breathe with all the mud and oil raining down on top of them and the fire threatening to consume anyone in it’s path. It’s scary and Peter Berg puts us in the shoes of the crew members who faced a terrifying ordeal and it effectively works.
Everything in Deepwater Horizon is played out and handled well. Wahlberg, Russell, and Rodriguez are solid in their performances in particular Gina Rodriguez is very effective as Andrea Fleytas, a woman who assisted in the navigation controls for the rig and who wants to do the best she can; only thing is, who is in control in a state of chaos? We feel scared the same way she does. Plus, Felicia (Kate Hudson) playing Mike’s wife who sits by the phone waiting to hear any kind of news. Kate Hudson does well, I just wish there was something more for her to do. What surprised me is how Berg focused on the men of the disaster and not the severe consequences of the failure of BP to help prevent the catastrophe or the result of that failure.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
With solid direction, a great cast, a memorable soundtrack from Steve Jablonsky, and the images of Deepwater Horizon going up in flames, this film is a sure thrill ride. It doesn’t pack the punch of Sully or even the “based on true events” story of Unstoppable, but the seriousness of the film more than makes up for it. Peter Berg showed us the heroes of April 20, 2010 who saved as many people as they could. Even showing us the ones that didn’t make it was nice to see and a respectable one at that. The action is solid, the thrills are heart pounding, and the story behind it all should be one to never be repeated again. Never forget the heroes who made a difference in a time of tragedy because they are the ones who should be remembered for their sacrifice.