Deepwater Horizon Review: Brilliant, Brave, and Bold.
I haven’t fully recovered from the theater going experience that is Deepwater Horizon. My jaw hurts from clenching; my eyes are wet from tearing, and my antiperspirant isn’t working as advertised. I’m also at a loss for words that an “action/disaster” movie is one of the best films of the year. I use the term action loosely because Deepwater Horizon goes beyond what is considered the norm of blockbusters in 2016. Peter Berg’s (Lone Survivor) latest is a nail-biting, edge of your seat thriller; that is both informative as it is terrifying.
In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon was an offshore drilling unit working on the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico. When a few safety tests are expedited, due to corporate demand, things go wrong as the Deepwater Horizon explodes, creating the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
The film starts off laying the groundwork for some of our main protagonists primarily foreman Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg). Wahlberg plays the “everyman” in what seems to be each film he’s in. His character in Deepwater Horizon is no different, yet, his portrayal of Williams felt more earnest, done with the utmost respect to the BP oil survivor. He’s a likable family man with a loving wife, Felicia (Kate Hudson), and daughter back home. This is the best Wahlberg has been in years, and it’s about time he gets to sink his teeth into a role that showcases real humanity. By the film’s closing moments, the tears filling my eyes were due primarily to his heartbreaking performance.
Bravo, Mark Wahlberg, bravo.
The supporting cast all do their equal parts to shine, as well as pay homage to those who lost their lives that day. There is no weak link to be found, and with the little screen time some have, you feel as if they are a tight-knit unit that has been together for years.
There are, however, two terrific supporting performances to note. That is, of course, Kurt Russell’s Jimmy Harrell and John Malkovich’s Vidrine. The instant “worker vs. corporate” tension is immediate, with some mesmerizing scenes that are strictly dialogue driven. At one point in the film, the pair of acting juggernauts exchange a simple look, with no words spoken at all, that made for some exceptional cinema. It’s the kind of look that only two actors of such caliber can pull off, one that says a thousand words with just a facial expression, I was floored.
The real disaster aspect of Deepwater Horizon is just terrifying. Everything is done in a realistic, tense and respectable way. This is the definition of an “edge of your seat” thriller. The CGI looks remarkable, with very few scenes seeming fake or hollywoodized. The action never becomes so monotonous that you are bored, which is one of the best compliments a film like this can receive.
In fact, my biggest complaint with Deepwater Horizon is that it took a little too long to get going. I love the fact that they wanted to pay respect and set up these characters as people and not have it be the “Mark Wahlberg show.” From strictly a narrative standpoint, the opening act took a bit to find its sea legs.
That is honestly the only gripe I have with Deepwater Horizon.
This is the perfect mix of “action blockbuster” and “emotional drama” that make for one brilliant film. I went into this movie expecting not much, having only liked Lone Survivor and despising Battleship. I came out teary-eyed and emotional, ready (still skeptical) for the next Berg and Wahlberg team up, Patriots Day.
Deepwater Horizon opens on September 30th, 2016