Deepwater Horizon is the name of the rig which BP used to go exploring under the sea bed for oil.
On April 20, 2010, it caught fire. Why? You’ll get the full details while you watch it, but it all begins when the previous team didn’t finish off all their checks, including a vital one relating to the cement layer between them and where they’re drilling. In due course, the blow-out preventer then stops preventing blow-outs. I can’t pretend to know the ins and outs of every last technical detail, but as we’re introduced to the crews on the rig, there are captions explaining certain things, so you can follow it all as it happens.
Director Peter Berg has proved himself to be exceptional with this. I was intrigued as the drama built up, and gripped once the action began from start to finish. If I had any gripes, it’s just a bit slow to get started, but then it’s got to introduce crew member Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) and his family, and you do realise that scene is necessary.
Early on, there are a conversation in the wind between Wiliams’ team and those leaving, the latter including director Peter Berg giving himself a cameo, as a member of those departing, and since it was so windy and you couldn’t hear much of it, it was amusing when Mike asks Jimmy Hassel (Kurt Russell), “What’d he say?”, to which comes the reply, “I don’t know, I couldn’t hear him either”.
In this film, Wahlberg and Russell generally just have to react to what’s going on, and there’s a neat turn from John Malkovich as the ‘baddie’ of the piece, as BP boss Vidrine, while the star of the show is Berg and the technical team behind him, with jawdropping CGI that gets right in the action. Every minute, little thing that goes wrong has the camera right in there, showing it happening in full detail and that, in itself, is quite scary. However, the presence of Wahlberg, in particular, will bring in a lot of bums on seats, that’s fine as it means more people will get to see this triumph than might otherwise have gone to watch something else.
Deepwater Horizon manages to do ‘true story disaster movie’ without being mawkish or packed full of unnecessary American sentamentalism, as a lot of films fail to avoid, although there was one annoying character’s ‘self-sacrifice moment’ – what happened can’t be true, surely? At least it wasn’t as bad Volcano‘s ‘underground worker jumping into lava’ after rescuing an unconscious body stuck on a train(!)
It’s an emotional rollercoaster and packs so many punches, one after another, that my head was still ringing when I left the cinema. Those cinemas with IMAX screens are showing it on those, but while Vue doesn’t have an IMAX, do as I did, and sit at the back of the front section of the auditorium. You’ll be comfortably close to the screen, so it’s right in your face with everything going off around you.
Deepwater Horizon shows what happens when cut-backs lead to a disaster waiting to happen. Overall, I was originally expecting a so-so film, but the tension and plot build up nicely, giving them room to breathe without trying to rush them, and then I was so blown away (pun not intended) by the entire second half of the film that I felt in a bit of a daze as I left the auditorium.
Running time: 108 minutes
Studio: Lionsgate UK Ltd
Cinema: Vue, Lowry, Salford Quays
Format: 2.35:1 (ARRIRAW (3.4K) (6.5K))
Released: September 29th 2016
Director: Peter Berg
Producers: Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Mark Vahradian and David Womark
Screenplay: Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand (based on an article by David Rohde and Stephanie Saul)
Music: Steve Jablonsky
Mike Williams: Mark Wahlberg
Jimmy Harrell: Kurt Russell
Landry: Douglas M Griffin
O’Bryan: James DuMont
Sims: Joe Chrest
Andrea Fleytas: Gina Rodriguez
Kaluza: Brad Leland
Vidrine: John Malkovich
Kuchta: Dave Maldonado
Dewey A. Revette: JD Evermore
Jason Anderson: Ethan Suplee
Stephen Ray Curtis: Jason Pine
Aaron Dale Burkeen: Jason Kirkpatrick
Doug Brown: Robert Walker Branchaud
Caleb Holloway: Dylan O’Brien
Gordon Jones: Jonathan Angel
Halliburton Rep: Bill McMullen
Mr Skip: Peter Berg
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.