Review: Deepwater Horizon will reignite anger.
I was lucky enough to see Deepwater Horizon while I was at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. While I didn’t go to the star-studded premiere, I did get to see the film at the Scotiabank Theatre in IMAX, which was the perfect way to experience the film. Deepwater Horizon is the big screen depiction of the BP oil spill that occurred in April of 2010. This unfortunate disaster resulted in the loss of 11 lives and is the biggest oil spill in United States history. The film focuses on Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), one of the main people affected by the explosion at Deepwater Horizon.
Deepwater Horizon is one of the biggest surprises of 2016. The film works great as an action flick as well as a hard-hitting drama. As an audience member, it feels as though you are going on a personal tour of Deepwater Horizon. Audiences will get to see how the oil rig works and how the equipment functions. The scene where the workers and the BP executives run a negative pressure test made me feel like I was in the room with them as it was being tested. Peter Berg must have spent months studying oil rigs as well as the explosion itself because almost every scene felt like an authentic recreation.
Berg opens the film with audio clips of the real Mike Williams. This sets the tone right away. I feel like the incorporation of news clips, audio clips, and the photos of the real-life workers that were there the day that the rig exploded, added some real emotional weight to the story. I loved that the film spent time focusing on those were who were part of the Deepwater Horizon explosion as well as those who weren’t but were affected by it. The command center sequences were all very effective as were the scenes of the people going about their daily lives before learning about the explosion.
Mark Wahlberg does his Mark Wahlberg thing playing Mike Williams. I have never felt as though Wahlberg acts but rather just works in a role or doesn’t. In this case, he works and gives the material his all. Wahlberg has a lot on his plate being the main protagonist but he handles the material well. While the film focuses primarily on Mike, I think the supporting characters shine just as bright. Kurt Russell steals every scene he’s in as Jimmy Harrell. I loved Russell’s portrayal of Jimmy because he is the sort of guy who tells it like it is and doesn’t try to sugarcoat things. Given his position at Deepwater Horizon, you can understand why Jimmy acts and behaves the way he does.
Gina Rodriguez, who you might recognize from the CW series Jane the Virgin, has a small role but is fantastic as Andrea Fleytas. Rodriguez has great chemistry with Wahlberg and the two share the film’s most suspenseful moment. Without spoiling anything, Mike must convince Andrea to jump off the burning Deepwater Horizon before it explodes. This scene is both emotional and suspenseful. Kate Hudson plays Mike’s wife and plays the loving and supportive wife very well. Despite what the trailers lead you to believe, Hudson has very little screen-time so don’t expect to see much of her when you see the film. This isn’t a film about a family but rather an event that affects a family.
Director Peter Berg has tackled so many different genres and has had different levels of success with each. With that being said, I feel as though Deepwater Horizon is Peter Berg’s crowning achievement in his career thus far. The scenes where things blow up are thrilling to watch. They are captured perfectly and so well shot. While the action will have you on the edge of your seat, the drama also works. Berg’s story showcases a real human connection within the characters in this story. You want everyone to survive and feel so angered that a big company like BP overlooked so many obvious issues because they didn’t want to spend more money to do it right. I think Berg showed us the facts without getting political. He reignites anger because he shows how the explosion happened simply due to negligence. No one is shown as an over the top villain but rather just people doing their day to day jobs.
Deepwater Horizon is a must-see film and one that needs to be experienced on the biggest screen with the best surround sound system possible. I would highly recommend seeing the film in either IMAX or 4DX for the most enjoyable movie theater experience. It has been about three weeks since I saw Deepwater Horizon and I am still surprised by how much I liked the film. Deepwater Horizon is the perfect follow-up to Lone Survivor and is equally entertaining as it is emotional. Peter Berg is on a roll and can’t wait to see what the director has in store for us next.
Scott “Movie Man” Menzel’s final rating for Deepwater Horizon is a 8 out of 10.