Deepwater Horizon

Year: 2016
Director: Peter Berg

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez
Written by Tom Sheffield

In a year that has produced a lot of great films that are based on true events (‘War Dogs’, ’13 Hours’, ‘Sully’), the ‘Deepwater Horizon’ trailers had caught my attention as a film I felt could become my favourite this year. ‘Deepwater Horizon’ was an oil drilling rig located in the Gulf of Mexico, and on the 20th April 2010 it exploded, with 126 crew members on board, resulting in America’s largest oil spill in history.

The film follows Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), an electrical technician aboard the oil rig at the time of the disaster. We first see Mike at home with his wife, Felicia (Kate Hudson) and his 10 year old daughter, Sydney, before he flies out to the rig. In this scene Sydney practices her show and tell project, in which she plans to show everyone in her class what her Dad’s rig does to get the oil. She uses an upside Coca Cola can and a little metal tube which she stabs into the bottom of the can to represent the pipe, and pours syrup in it to stop the ‘oil’ spilling out of it. This scene basically has Sydney give the audience some easy to digest background knowledge on what the pipe does, and in the greatest example of foreshadowing, the coke can suddenly bursts and spews out cola!

Once Williams is aboard the rig, it becomes apparent that relations between the TransOcean workers and the BP bigwigs are close to breaking point, with BP neglecting regulations and tests in order to ensure their pockets are filled with money, and totally disregarding the safety regulations. The film has no issue with making it clear that BP are to blame for the events that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, much like people around the world who voiced their anger and hate towards BP after the disaster. Obviously knowing the disastrous outcome of this neglect, we as the audience witness the build up to what causes the explosion, but I was constantly on the edge of my seat because even though you know what is going to happen, you don’t know when it’s going to happen.

The scenes before the disaster are well paced and they give the audience an insight to the personalities of some of the workers on board the rig; this in-turn helps you empathise with their situation when things go south, and you see their struggle and desperation to survive. Whilst Wahlberg’s character is the main focus, each and every actor involved in this film gave an incredible performance, regardless of how much screen time they had.

Without a shadow of a doubt, this is my favourite performance from Mark Wahlberg in any of his films to date. His portrayal of Mike Williams and his heroic actions on board the rig had me rooting for him the whole time, and biting my nails as he navigates his way through the exploding rig to find Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell), the Supervisor of the TransOcean team. Russell also gave a great performance, demonstrating strength, and showing the struggles of being a leader during such a horrific disaster.  

Peter Berg’s direction, the cinematography, the sound effects and the music had me completely hooked throughout the film. We are treated to some stunning landscape shots, and a 360 degree view of the rig; which incredibly was a real rig that was specially built for the film. When the rig is aflame, the visual effects and scenes are stunningly executed, but horrifying to imagine in reality. I watched ‘Deepwater Horizon’ in IMAX, and I can honestly say it’s one of the most stunning films I’ve watched in IMAX to date.

The film ends with a very touching tribute to 11 of the crew members who died on the Deepwater Horizon, serving as a final reminder that this was a real disaster and there were very real consequences to BP’s negligence. After watching this, I am really looking forward to watching Berg and Wahlberg working together again for the upcoming film ‘Patriot’s Day’ based on the Boston Bombings in 2013, even more so now there has been a trailer released online. If it’s anywhere near as good as ‘Deepwater Horizon’, then it’s going to be an absolute must-see!

Tom’s rating: 9.4 out of 10
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