Deepwater Horizon – Film Review

Director: Peter Berg

Starring:  Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russel, John Malkovich, Gina Rodriguez

Rating: ★★★★

Most people will remember the BP oil spill of 2010 and the extreme environmental impact it had. There are news articles form within the last year explaining that the effects are still being felt. It’s the biggest environmental disaster in American history and made worldwide headlines. The Film Deepwater Horizon doesn’t focus too much on the aftermath, but the explosion on the oil rig and what led to it.

Mike Williams, played by Mark Wahlberg (The Departed), is the Chief Electronics Technician aboard the oil rig and finds that the team who were assigned to complete checks have been sent home early by BP managers. Mike and Jimmy Harrell, played by Kurt Russell (Escape from New York, The Thing) insist that a pressure check is completed on the drill. When the results come back bad with too much pressure Donald Vidrine, played by John Malkovich (Red), explains that this isn’t enough and requests a check on another line. This comes back more successful and Donald pressures the workers to progress with the drilling. The pressure builds up and an explosion engulfs the oil rig in flames.

The main cast are brilliant, presenting the real life people who were on the rig with great performances. You get to spend a good amount of time before the disaster takes place to get to know the people and that makes the second half of the film so much more powerful. Just before the credits it shows some pictures of the actual people, and while the actors don’t really look anything like them, it does bring the whole story home and makes it hit that much harder. There is also a tribute to the people who lost their lives on the oil rig, which is emotional and saddening.

Essentially the film presents to us that the disaster happened because an 18 billion dollar company didn’t want to spend $150 thousand dollars on making sure the equipment was safe and ready to go. It’s a harsh criticism of the world we live in and the lack of value global conglomerates hold for people’s lives. While the focus of the film is on the explosion and danger to human lives, the environmental impact is felt. There is a moment, when the pressure forces the oil to shoot out, that we see birds flying into the windows on the nearby boat, covered in oil. The effects on the environment were harsh and quick.

With how the film presents people showing a lack of care about drilling into the Earth, it almost feels like the planet is fighting back and could wipe out humanity very quickly. There is a scene towards the end where Mark Wahlberg and Gina Rodriquez (Jane the Virgin, Annihilation),  are forced to jump from a high deck on the rig to jump over the fire. It feels reminiscent of war films, especially when shrapnel is shooting through the water like bullets in the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan.

The effects throughout are great, the whole set piece of the oil rig looks real and imposing. When the disaster does happen, it feels real and that the people are in danger. It’s an incredible spectacle reinforcing how scary the situation must have been. The whole film flies by, with the impending disaster and then the explosion and attempt to survive and control the explosion. It moves at a quick pace and doesn’t feel boring once.

Deepwater Horizon shows the devastating effects the explosion had, not only on the environment, but on the people on the oil rig. The final ten minutes are near enough silent, showing the long term effects this has had on their mental and physical health. It’s a powerful and gripping film that will have you engaged and captivated from the start to the final moments. This is something that should have been avoided and will hopefully never happen again.

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About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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