It has been six years since a series of explosions rocked the Deepwater Horizon, sending the oil-drilling rig to the bottom of the ocean in a swirl of fire and water. The executives at BP, the multinational oil and gas company responsible for the disaster, were no doubt hoping that we’d all forgotten about the largest marine oil spill in history, or at least put it in the back of our minds.
But now comes director Peter Berg and a talented cast to bring all that horror and ugliness back to the surface.
Mark Wahlberg stars as Mike Williams, an oil rig worker about to begin another long shift on the Deepwater Horizon. He flies out to the rig with his boss, Jimmie “Mr. Jimmie” Harrell (Kurt Russell), co-worker Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez), and a handful of BP executives led by Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich).
The BP chiefs have shown up to get the project, which is more than a month behind schedule, up and pumping oil. Mr. Jimmie is more concerned that the project has been too rushed as is, and that the rig has been dangerously put together and not seaworthy.
Vidrine agrees to a safety test before proceeding any further. When the test fails spectacularly, he demands a new, different test. The second test passes inspection and Vidrine is able to bully the crew into starting the drill.
The rest is history. The pipes can’t hold the gushing oil, things fly apart, fires erupt, followed by explosions. Now all that matters is survival.
“Deepwater Horizon” is a gripping disaster movie made all the more compelling because it really happened. Not a lot of time is spent getting to know the people involved — Wahlberg has a few scenes with his wife and daughter (Kate Hudson gets the thankless role of worried wife this time out) — but the focus is primarily on the disaster and what these people do to make it out alive.
Don’t come in expecting a nuanced look at the pros and cons of offshore oil drilling. Vidrine and his BP buddies are presented as greedy, careless, corporate goons while Harrell is the unheard voice of reason.
Finally, I always like to point out when movies — good or bad — make me sick. There’s a bit of jerky camera action in this film, and I did start to feel a bit nauseous by the end, but it wasn’t a big factor. And I saw this on the IMAX, so it might not be bad at all on a regular screen.