The effects driven retelling of the largest man made environmental disaster in U.S. history; Deepwater Horizon is more akin to ‘Snakes on a Plane’ than the human interest story it tries to be. Minimalist in its storytelling, Deepwater Horizon is a bit confusing at times yet, it still is an effect no-nonsense thriller. That could be good or bad, depending on your expectations of the film. This isn’t an emotional docu-drama, nor is it a bloated CGI fest. (OK, maybe a little) Deepwater Horizon, like so many other calamity films places a bunch of likable characters on the precipice of sudden disaster. Though the film stars Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell and Kate Hudson, the real star of the show is the ill-fated semi-submersible oil rig.
On April 20, 2010 the 126 person crew of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, over 40 miles from the coast of Louisiana, reported for duty as if it were any other day. They’ve kissed their wives, boyfriends and kids for the last time as the 3 week long stay on the rig begins. For Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell), affectionately known around the rig as Mr. Jimmy, safety is his first priority. Apparently some steps on the preliminary safety checklist, before his arrival and Mr. Jimmy wont start the operation without the necessary checks. Makes sense, right? Visitors to the rig from BP’s corporate office object to any further delay. Unwilling to spare any time or money on delays in production, it’s up to Mr. Jimmy to make a tough call. Either please his corporate overlords at the cost of safety, or risk his job with insubordination.
No matter the exact cause of the blowout of the Macondo Well, a mile under the Deepwater Horizon; 11 people lost their lives in the barrage of flash fires, debris and collapsing metal and the film does a great job of not politicizing the issue. It would be easier to portray the brass from BP as ophidian by nature however, director Peter Berg presents a harrowing, yet unbiased account of the rig’s last day. Less emotional than ‘Sully’ but as intense as a summer blockbuster, Deepwater Horizon could be a surprise at the box office, moving into the fall movie season.
Rated: PG-13 @ 107 mins