Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

A moment to reflect on the real history…

Deepwater Horizon was an oil rig located in the Gulf of Mexico. In April 2010, over budget and more than 40 days behind schedule, the BP executives cut safety corners resulting in one of the worst ecological disasters in U.S. history. Millions of gallons of oil spilled into the waters. Attempts to completely stop the spill were unsuccessful for many months. Eleven people died that day.

The Hollywood side of the story…

Deepwater Horizon is a Hollywood attempt to look at the brave men and women who survived the explosion. The movie starts with a brief look into the life of Mike Williams, played by Mark Wahlberg, on the day he leaves for the 21-day stint on Deepwater Horizon. Unfortunately, the story lead into the action is so brief, and primarily focused on one character, that the audience does not have a chance tp become vested in many of the important players.

Williams and Jimmy Harrell (a.k.a Mr. Jimmy), played by Kurt Russell, arrive on Deepwater Horizon to find that several critical checks were not completed, including the cement test for the structure of the rig and the negative --pressure tests. They also learn that BP wants to shut the rig down due to being over-budget and behind schedule, regardless of safety. It wouldn’t be a spoiler to say that this led to catastrophic results.

Great movie moments:

Deepwater Horizon is definitely a story that needs to be told.

Not-so-great movie moments:

The movie primarily focuses on the day of the disaster. Little character build up is offered, so it’s difficult to become emotionally vested in the characters. Eleven people died that day, but unless you’re paying attention to the characters it was easily missed if you were not aware of the true story. During the movie credits, however, they do show footage from the real life survivors.

Deepwater Horizon was a very dark day in natural history. Aside from a brief glimpse of the hearings, again shown during the credits, very little attention is given to the magnitude of the results. I would imagine that the audience was supposed to surmise this based on the “meaningful looks” passed between oil executive Donald Vidrine, played by John Malkovich, Mr. Jimmy, and Williams. Unfortunately, the true story of the disaster cannot be neatly squeezed into a 107 minute movie.

Kate Hudson plays Felicia Williams, Mike’s wife. Upon learning of the disaster, she makes a half-hearted attempt to find out what’s going on. Unfortunately while Kate Hudson is a good actress in some movies, she is not very good at playing the full range of emotion required for the role.

During the hours before the disaster, Deepwater Horizon focuses on the superstitions and premonitions of the main characters. For example, a bird strike on the helicopter as the crew is in route to the rig, or the color of a BP executive’s tie. Is this Hollywood suspense or hindsight from the real crew?

Overall, I give Deepwater Horizon a 2 out of 5 stars, but it’s important to understand why. A true mark of a good movie I'm watching at home is how many times I walk out of the room to tend to other things. Deepwater Horizon kept me focused the entire time. The movie earns a 2 because I do believe that so much more could have been done to tell the story of the disaster and its effect on the environment for years to come.

Movie Details:

Director: Peter Berg
Rating: PG–13 – A rating I’m surprised at given the language, which is typical of a Mark Wahlberg movie.
Running time: 107 minutes.

Deepwater Horizon [DVD] is available on Amazon.

I rented this movie with my own funds and have not been compensated for this review.

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