Film Review : Deepwater Horizon

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Mark Wahlberg’s character is a quiet hero in the moment of chaos

Dramatisation of real life disasters seems to be what director Peter Berg likes to go for and teaming up with Mark Wahlberg for the first of a couple of “disaster movies” – this is tense film that explodes into a raging inferno for its final act.

Released : 2016

Run time : 117 minutes

Premise

Following the huge oil rig spill and fire from 2010, this is a real life man-made disaster that never should have happened but corporate greed ensures we all lose in the long run and we watch the rig go up in flames and the workers attempt their escape.

The Disasters Faced

Fire, oil, drowning, explosions, pressure systems failing and exploding…. pretty much everyone exploding everywhere… and the biggest shit eating grin from a corporate manager who seems utterly oblivious to the carnage he is causing.

The Execution

Deepwater Horizon has two distinct parts. Part one introduces everyone in the film and explains how the rig and drilling for oil works. It’s done in a follow and learn on the job kind of way where everyone is mumbling and having “work banter” and whilst this on its own I found slightly endearing but mostly a bit underwhelming since everyone has a quip everywhere, there is an underplayed sense of impending dread and doom as warning after warning is overlooked and overturned in the pursuit of profit. Then as the tension builds – a switch is flicked and from there its carnage and full on riot all the way home to the credits. One helps promote the other and together the two halves work superbly to create a whole product. It is going for a natural and uncinematic feel across the board and so even though everything is blowing up around you, its focus on characters and event telling over looking good for the sake of it is really what sells the movie as a great one. Add to that a relatively tight script and some emotional pay offs and you have yourself a fully rounded package.

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The mixture of practical effects and CGi is sublime

The Effects

The rig itself looks amazing and there is a sense of scale to everything that’s there. The fire and explosion are amazing and some of the stunt work is great too. My last tip of the hat in the effects department is being able to portray pressure explosions in real life. On the DVD extras they show how they did it and it’s great that live effects and not CGI was used. It means that actors aren’t just acting but reacting and for it’s what made Poseidon an absolute treat to watch from an actors point of view when the cameras aren’t on them and the same applies here.

Why It’s Worth Watching

It’s an interesting story to tell because as an outsider that knew little other than “we’ve screwed up our environment again!” whilst its sympathetic to the workers plight to escape, it doesn’t particularly harbour a heavy-handed message. It simply goes about telling events and gives more subtle underplayed hints of blame and anger. Of course, the effects are great but so is the acting. I wanted to punch John Malkovich so hard as the BP manager – but he is simply playing an eager manager desperate to hit targets. He is the baddie but he is really just the mouthpiece too and that’s an interesting concept to toy with in itself. It’s great to see Kurt Russell back on our screens in a big way and he plays his role with aplomb and I’d not heard of Gina Rodriguez before but she runs all the emotions and back again perfectly. There’s also a closing credits photo tribute to those whom died in the real disaster too which was a thoughtful touch.

Drinking Game

Each time someone ignores a warning and proceeds on regardless. It gets unbearable!

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Gina Rodriguez is a name for the future

Favourite Character

Kurt Russell’s character wins it for me. Too old and experienced to take the shit from the big boys but will do his job to the best of his ability for them anyway. We all feel you man.

Weirdest Moment

It’s less of a weirdest moment but more of a process question. When half the oil rig is on fire, they can’t shut down the oil coming in because they don’t have authorisation to do so but surely when there’s a huge fire everywhere that wouldn’t be an issue? In the end Kurt Russell staggers in and has to be lifted to pull the lever himself as he is so injured – it just seemed so strange and counter productive.

Random Trivia

The oil rig built to create the film is possibly the biggest single set piece made for cinema to date. Also Kurt Russell is Kate Hudson’s step dad and its the first time they’ve been in the same film together.

Conclusion

Thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable piece of work. If you don’t like a bit of slice of life daily work banter, the opening 20 minutes may cause you a problem but get passed that and you’ll be absolutely riveted as a taut and powerful film takes over and dominates your senses until its finished with you.

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