On April 20, 2010, the United States experienced the single largest oil spill in the history of the industry when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico. 87 days later it was finally capped; after causing billions of dollars in property damage, claiming 11 lives, and making an immeasurable impact on the environment. This film follows Chief Electronics Technician Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) and his colleagues on that fateful day as they find themselves fighting for survival. As the heat and the flames become stifling and overwhelming, everyone must band together, using their wits to make it out alive amid all the chaos.
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Hello, Movie Buffs!
Not many filmmakers manage to tap into real-life events and adapt them admirable to film, effectively balancing true accuracy and gripping emotions. Director Peter Berg (Lone Survivor, Friday Night Lights) is one of those rare filmmakers – including Clint Eastwood (Sully), Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge, The Passion of the Christ), and Martin Scorsese (Silence) – and in Deepwater Horizon he delivers an action-packed blockbuster and an honest depiction of the worst oil disaster in U.S. history; about the BP oil rig that exploded and contaminated the Gulf of Mexico. Deepwater Horizon further expands Berg’s ambitious gift in adapting terrifying events to film in a way that shines diligent with realism and offers a respectful tribute to the men and women who either suffered or lost their lives in this tragedy. Berg directs the sequence of events by making smart choices in story flow, creating possibly the most immersive disaster in cinema history, and avoids preaching environmental messages or regurgitating on tired disaster clichés and artificial sentimentality.
Although the first quarter of the movie takes place before the disaster strikes – focusing on getting to know the quirks and personalities of the characters, so as to better empathize with their situation – the majority of the film focuses on only the disastrous incident of the Deepwater oil rig. It would have been expected and cliché to create a mini-series on the decades of negligence and corporate greed that caused the conditions that led to this event. And it would have been as equally expected and cliché to create a mini-series on the environmental and economic impact to the Gulf and the states surrounding the Gulf. Both outcomes would have been informative and great, however, they would have lost the laser focus of cascading disasters that Peter Berg propels the audience and film through. Moments after getting on the Deepwater oil rig (which is a ship rather than a platform), events start going south and it’s a nonstop adrenaline rush till the end. The disaster is portrayed brilliantly, while the tone remains frantic and the stunning special effects work in pushing it over the edge. Now, the movie itself is a depiction of events with nothing groundbreaking or revolutionary in regards to storytelling, however, it didn't have to be. Deepwater Horizon tells the story of a tragic event and the gritty realism displayed is as equally refreshing as it is intense.
The visual effects are top notch in terms of computer graphic imaging and the reconstruction of an oil rig succumbing to its doom is very realistic. Audiences might be amazed at seeing the rig and its crew, get covered in oil before erupting into a fiery inferno (as seen in the trailers). The visuals were so good, I found myself immersed into the disaster, wanting to duck and dive as explosions rattled the screen. And while the various sequences of exploding metal and roaring fire certainly paint a terrifying picture but when you add the element of emotion that the characters bring, the horrifying feeling chills run down your spine as you watch people being thrown around like rag dolls and disturbing injuries displayed in hazy gory details. Luckily it is not all doom and gloom, as there are plenty of sequences portraying heroism that will restore your faith in humanity and make you proud to be a human; despite how overly theatrical it can be at times.
In this film, the event is the star and the entire cast is not showy or too Hollywood as they all look like they belong on the rig. Of course, the audience needs some form of grounding and we get that through the characters portrayed by Mark Wahlberg (Lone Survivor, Patriot’s Day, Invincible) and Kurt Russell (Overboard, The Hateful Eight, Stargate), who don’t steal the show but do certainly stand out as they dominate in their roles. Mark Wahlberg’s portrayal of Deepwater Horizon's Chief Engineer Mike Williams is certainly a heroic one filled with wisdom, strength, and a calm edge that sets the stage for a natural leader. In the second half of the film, there is a realistic side brought out that balances out the heroic theatrics of Hollywood. Kurt Russell gives the opportunity to remind us why he's one of the biggest stars ever and it’s no surprise that he gets to play his usual rugged role; adding a hard edge of testosterone that most older actors need. The supporting cast – including John Malkovich (Red, Secretariat), Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin), Kate Hudson (27 Dresses), and Dylan O'Brien (Teen Wolf, Maze Runner) – is excellent in having chemistry and bringing the needed involvement to round out the cast. All the extras and lesser billed roles to complete the picture as a close oil crew.
Overall, Deepwater Horizon is an authentic and terrifying disaster film on the account of America's worst environmental disaster in history. Peter Berg successfully captures the reality of the horrifying events, offers an understanding of the technical aspects, and displays some gripping performances by the cast. While Deepwater Horizon is a sort of bookend to September's opening hit, Sully, and though both are outstanding films, Deepwater Horizon is in every way the anti-Sully as it provides the emotional thrills audiences want.
“Mayday! Mayday! This is Deepwater Horizon.”
- Andrea Fleytas
Worth Seeing: 4.5 of 5 stars
Worth Buying: 4.5 of 5 stars
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Patriots Day (2016)
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Cast & Crew
Directed by: Peter Berg
(Screenplay) Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand.
(Screen Story) Matthew Sand.
(Article) David Barstow, David Rohde, and Stephanie Saul
Lorenzo di Bonaventura --- producer
Lauren Downey --- associate producer
Petra Holtorf --- co-producer
Jonathan King --- executive producer
Cliff Lanning --- co-producer
Stephen Levinson --- producer
Todd Lewis --- co-producer
Qiuyun Long --- executive producer/producer
Michael Paseornek --- production executive
Bo Shen --- associate co-producer
Jeff Skoll --- executive producer
Mark Vahradian --- producer
Mark Wahlberg --- producer
David Womark --- producer
Shixing Zhou --- associate co-producer
Music by Steve Jablonsky
Cinematography by Enrique Chediak
Film Editing by Gabriel Fleming and Colby Parker Jr.
Production Design by Chris Seagers
Mark Wahlberg --- Mike Williams
Kurt Russell --- Jimmy Harrell
Douglas M. Griffin --- Landry
James DuMont --- O'Bryan
Joe Chrest --- Sims
Gina Rodriguez --- Andrea Fleytas
Brad Leland --- Kaluza
John Malkovich --- Vidrine
David Maldonado --- Kuchta
J.D. Evermore --- Dewey A. Revette
Ethan Suplee --- Jason Anderson
Jason Pine --- Stephen Ray Curtis
Jason Kirkpatrick --- Aaron Dale Burkeen
Robert Walker Branchaud --- Doug Brown
Dylan O'Brien --- Caleb Holloway
Jonathan Angel --- Gordon Jones
Bill McMullen --- Halliburton Rep
Jeremy Sande --- Adam Weise
Kate Hudson --- Felicia
Stella Allen --- Sydney
Peter Berg --- Mr. Skip
Juston Street --- Anthony Gervasio
Anthony Centonze --- Dan Barron / Roughneck #1
Joel Allen --- Old Man Carl
Henry Frost --- Shane M. Roshto
Terry Milam --- Keith Blair Manuel
Garrett Kruithof --- Karl Kleppinger Jr.
Michael Howell --- Roy Wyatt Kemp
Ronald Weaver --- Donald Clark
Deneen Tyler --- Paula Walker
Garrett Hines --- Wyman Wheeler
Rob Steinberg --- BP Rep
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