"Deepwater Horizon" is a harrowing account of what really happened on Transocean’s offshore oil drilling rig on April 20, 2010. It blends such definitive disaster movies as "The Towering Inferno" and "The Poseidon Adventure" with modern effects technology.
Director Peter Berg ("Lone Survivor") concentrates on the chaos and confusion as the largest manmade disaster occurred, highlighting the ordinary working-class heroes who helped save lives.
The film also honors the 11 men who lost their lives that horrific night. The resulting inferno is hellish, and there is no doubt where the filmmakers' sympathies lie.
Certainly not with the BP company men that cut corners to save time and money. Those grave errors in safety procedures brought about the tragedy. Berg methodically shows how the rig was an accident waiting to happen.
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The film will move you — and make you mad.
Performances: The human element is embodied by the crew leaders — the always terrific Kurt Russell ("Backdraft") is back in action hero form as Mr. Jimmy, the operations manager, and Mark Wahlberg ("Lone Survivor") is his usual tough guy rising to the occasion as Mike Williams, whose bravery put others first.
Mr. Jimmy questions the BP executives not following through with a test to make sure the rig is secure and can withstand the pressure of the next steps. A clear pattern of negligence emerges and the 126 crew members' lives were at grave risk because of the cut corners.
Kate Hudson ("Almost Famous") is Williams' wife, and provides the family component to the story, although her acting is basically communicating on Skype with her husband and on the phone trying to find out if he's OK.
John Malkovich ("Con-Air") is Don Vidrine, a BP man who was indicted for manslaughter but the charges were later dropped. He thickly lays on the Cajun accent and toes the company line with a cagey grin.
What Works: We watched the news reports in horror and disbelief, and filmmakers capture the frantic worst nightmare quality to give us the terrifying perspective. But they never lose sight of the human casualties and what is at stake.
What Doesn't Work: This is strictly an action film, and it's a humdinger. Don't expect much depth, as you’re watching explosions galore.
But the fact that it really happened elevates it beyond a mere disaster film. Lives were lost, and no one should forget it.
You must stay for the credits to see the men who never made it to the lifeboats.
Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Kurt Russell, Mark Wahlberg, John Malkovich, Kate Hudson, and Gina Rodriguez.
Rated: PG-13 for prolonged intense disaster sequences and related disturbing images