Eric Renderking Fisk | January 3rd, 2017
"On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico, igniting a massive fireball that kills several crew members. Chief electronics technician Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) and his colleagues find themselves fighting for survival as the heat and the flames become stifling and overwhelming. Banding together, the co-workers must use their wits to make it out alive amid all the chaos."
Here’s a movie that’s everything fans of action-adventure movies are looking for! We have a cast of characters that's likable, relatable, and as we get to know them we start to care about them before the action takes place. We're introduced to the situation, we know something bad and dangerous is coming then we're on the edges of our seats as the tension builds. When the disaster actually strikes and the life-or-death struggle begins we're captivated and terrified for the characters.
There are countless scenes when we in the audience ask ourselves; “How does he/she get out of this one?” There are those scenes when you think our heroes of the film are in big trouble and there’s just no way anyone could get out of that situation, and since this is one of those really gritty realistic stories you know that some of them just might not make it.
The only problem for a lot of us, especially my wife, is that this movie is literally too realistic.
It’s too real in the sense that this is a “docudrama,” This actually happened to real people, who experienced this disaster, and not everyone survived. Real people were killed either by the initial explosion, trauma caused by the explosion, flying or falling debris, burns from the fire, or possible drowning after jumping off the burning rig and into the burning oil floating on the ocean surface in the Gulf of Mexico.
From the beginning of the movie, we meet Mark Wahlberg playing the role of a real-life survivor of this disaster, Mike Williams, and his wife Felicia portrayed by Kate Hudson. Here's a loving couple who are separated 6 weeks at a time but they remain intensely passionate and in love with each other. They have a daughter who was working on a school project that explains to us – the audience – why there's the danger in what Mike Williams does. This is a perfect example of how filmmakers inform and terrorize the audience with suspense.
The scene where the daughter rehearses her talk and demonstration at the breakfast table is perhaps one of the best examples of foreshadowing I've seen in years.
Then, during Mike Williams trip to the coast where he takes a helicopter ride with his coworker Jimmy Harrell, played by Kurt Russell, we're teased even more with talk about the problems on The Deepwater Horizon rig and the site where it's drilling. The stress to the audience is nothing compared to what lies below the surface of the ocean and beneath the ocean floor.
Then, scenes chock-full of exposition dialog about how the concrete for the ocean floor platform hasn’t been properly tested thanks to BP (remember them… the oil company responsible for this disaster thanks to cost-cutting?) and then a few short science lessons about oil pressure, ground pressure, metal strength, the strength of the oil pipe, how the rig stays in place above the drilling spot… we're teased about how there's a pending disaster.
We're warned through the explosion dialog that the disaster might not happen today, or next week, but when it does because of all this cost-cutting and cutting corners to make up for being almost 50 days behind schedule, it could be a disaster beyond imagination.
And then, like all great docudrama disaster movies, the disaster actually happens. Ironically, it occurs just when the crew of "Deepwater Horizon" wins an award for so many days without an accident.
Then, THE EXPLOSION.
The rest of the movie is watching the people we have just grown to like (except John Malkovich as the BP executive, Vidrine…) in a life and death struggle as the Deepwater Horizon rig explodes. Then it burns, and then explodes again. Then burns some more. Then explodes… and burns. Then the oil that’s spilled into the ocean burns.
Then, we watch as people are thrown in various directions, or get crushed to death. Or parts of their bodies get crushed, trapping them in a raging inferno. And then there are the stories of heroism as some of the survivors try to save their hurt and endangered friends.
And then we watch some of those people get trapped and injured… and possibly killed before they have to get to the lifeboats and try and race away from the rig before the final massive explosion that might kill them all before it sinks to the ocean.
Unless you actually followed the news about this disaster 6 years ago, you have little idea who survived and what characters make it through the rest of the movie.
And since the special effects are top-notch and the camera work is exceptional - heck, everyone involved in this movie seemed to have done a good job – you can’t help but feel as if you were there as you watched the film. This is as intense as a movie gets and for that reason, my wife Carol had a hard time with watching this film.
Like I said in other reviews, I like to wonder how or if I would survive such scenarios that are in movies like this. I have no idea how I would have been able to survive something this intense; this movie captures exactly hell must be like and how inescapable it must be. How could I expect to keep my chin up and fedora on through this perdition and anguish?
The movie is merely the day or so before the accident, the night of the accident and survivors trying to get to safety and nothing more. There is nothing in this movie about what happened as part of the aftermath of the oil spill that lasted 87 days, the damage to the environment, or even the congressional hearings where the BP CEO Tony Hayward was grilled for doing too little to prevent disaster. There is no commentary about the other disasters caused at BP facilities, the management problems elsewhere, or other accidents that occurred as the result of BP's management's "that's someone else's problem to deal with" attitude.
Were there any faults about this movie, it's lack of background detail about the culture of ineptitude that caused this accident in the first place. If you're looking for media that hammers at the cooperation that is responsible for this (and other oil rig and refinery disasters) look elsewhere. (Like "Fire on the Horizon: The Untold Story of the Gulf Oil Disaster" by Tom Shroder and John Konrad) This is a movie that honors the heroism and bravery of the people who were on Deepwater Horizon and gives all of us who see this movie a taste of what really happened with realism and clarity that's frankly a little traumatizing for people because of the raw portrayal of human suffering.
Tell us what you thought of this movie or original event!