Deepwater Horizon Review
Director: Peter Berg
I have always enjoyed Peter Berg's movies, even the not-so-well received films like Battleship and Welcome To The Jungle. Hancock, The Kingdom and of course, Lone Survivor are my favourites of his work. Here he reunites with Lone Survivor, Mark Wahlberg to give us a visual account of the largest oil disaster in U.S. history.
Yes, it is a disaster movie but there's quite a firm message here, and an outstanding tribute to the people who both lost and saved lives on that horrific day. The films spends a portion of it's 107min running time going through the corporate politics in an attempt to point accountability. This actually works in creating tension and tells more of the story than just the oil rig blowing out, even though we know what's going to happen.
Mark Wahlberg takes the lead role of Mike Williams, the chief electronics technician on board the impressive semi-submersible oil drilling rig, who is still haunted by event today. Kurt Russell plays Jimmy Harrell, the Installations Manager, responsible for the 126 souls on board the South Korean built, Swiss owed rig. Both are met with friction when confronting BP heads about taking short-cuts and ignoring safety measures which eventually leads to the uncontrollable eruption that took 11 lives and caused catastrophic damage on some many levels. John Malkovich always does so great at playing the hard, unlikable, no polite way of putting this, but arsehole, the corporate appeasing dictator more concerned with profit margins than the safety of people and the planet. You just want to punch him in the face.
We get the idea the crew know each other well and that they're part of tight community of veteran oil rig workers. In real life the rig had been operational for seven years prior to April 2010 without any serious incident and had broken the record for deepest well ever drilled just several months before.
The main character in this film though, is the oil itself, the ferocious beast that's unleashed and is shown how it devours everything, destroying people's lives, the rig and setting the ocean ablaze. The action was incredibly intense, violent and unforgiving, reminding me very much of James Cameron's The Abyss, but a hundred times more relentless.
The story attempts to gain empathy with all involved but there wasn't enough emotional investment with the family and I'm sure that was the purpose of Kate Hudson's part, to add a realistic humility to the happenings that would normally go amiss when watching this on the news. It tried again at the end but misses it's mark, however there is still a very strong message here and I think I got it.
The film focuses on the individuals involved which is honourable and understandable but I feel they should have included the consequential aftermath of this event, the massive operation launched to help protect the marine ecosystems, the spill spanning 68k square miles. Not only did it have a devastating impact on the environment and marine life, but damaged the tourism, international relations and in more ways than one, the economy.
BP was ultimately held responsible, being deemed negligent and reckless, and fined the largest corporate fine of $18.7billion bringing the total settlement payments to over $60billion. They also suffered a 40% drop in American revenue due to the public boycott. But who cares about the money, it's not about that, it's about the people who were on board at the time she blew.
In light of this, President Obama set things in motion which resulted in the halting operations of 33 rigs and Canadian officials scrutinised offshore drilling companies, even Arnold Schwarzenegger withdrew his support from expanding offshore drilling. I feel if this film wanted to hammer the point home, they should have been more copious with the amount of guilty facts laying it on thick and hopefully gaining the full empathy the crew deserves.
The sets are amazing, resurrecting the rig by building a replica, the largest set piece ever built just off the coast of Louisiana. The effects are stunning, if not frightening, capturing the horrors the crew faced during the incident. Everything looked so very real and accurate.
I loved Steve Jablonsky's score, who composes a similar triumphant theme to Lone Survivor. It does amazingly well creating pressure with building crescendos and then exploding with violent noise only to be follow by calming running beats that sound like helicopters that offers some relief. Definitely one of my favourite scores of the year.
It's an amazing tribute to the 11 lost souls they never found after Deepwater Horizon and to the key people who tried to regain control and heroically saved lives from the tragedy. It's a little more than just a disaster movie but it could have been so much more.
Running Time: 8
The Cast: 8
Job Description: 7
The Extra Bonus Point: 5 for being a good tribute to the individuals involved.
Would I buy the Blu-ray?: Yes