Review: DEEPWATER HORIZON (2016) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Friday, 30 September 2016



Based on a true event of the worst oil disaster ever recorded in the U.S. history, the movie revolves around the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig that ended up killing 11 workers and caused a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. During that fateful day of April 20, 2010, the workers aboard the Deepwater Horizon include chief electronics technician Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), offshore installation manager Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) and a sole female crew member Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez). The explosion begins when BP supervisor Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich) insists the Deepwater Horizon crew to run the ill-fated pressure test.

REVIEW: Following a successful collaboration in the 2013 war drama LONE SURVIVOR, director Peter Berg and actor Mark Wahlberg reunites for another dramatic picture titled as DEEPWATER HORIZON. But instead of teaming up for another war genre, DEEPWATER HORIZON is a fact-based disaster drama set in the titular oil rig.

But before Berg gets into the Deepwater Horizon explosion, he takes his time establishing his major protagonist, Mike Williams as a caring family man who has a beautiful wife (Kate Hudson) and a lovely daughter (Stella Allen). Thanks to Mark Wahlberg's likeable yet charismatic lead performance, he successfully turned Mike Williams into a relatable character who goes to work and returns home safely to his loved ones just like anybody else. Kudos also go to Berg for not transforming Mark Wahlberg's Mike Williams into a Hollywood-style action hero seen mostly in the disaster genre. Even by the time the inevitable explosion take place, Mike Williams is portrayed more of a survivor than a tough guy with a larger-than-life machoism. The supporting actors are equally competent, notably for Kurt Russell's perfectly grizzled yet commanding presence as Jimmy Harrell a.k.a. Mr Jimmy while John Malkovich is well-cast as the self-serving BP supervisor Donald Vidrine. As for the younger cast members, both Gina Rodriguez and Dylan O'Brien deliver strong supports to their respective roles as among the oil rig's employees. Finally, in what could have been a pair of thankless parts for Kate Hudson and Stella Allen, both actresses are given enough room to shine with their minor roles.

The first hour or so can be challenging for those who have little knowledge about oil industry since Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand's screenplay is full of technical jargons. But once you manage to get over with all the lengthy talks about safety procedures as well as all the rules and regulations surrounding the oil drilling and whatnot, you will be rewarded with a satisfying payoff. That being said, the second half of the movie is particular engrossing. Working alongside cinematographer Enrique Chediak, it was a refreshing change of pace to see Berg doesn't resort to his usual shaky-cam shooting style during the inferno scene. Instead, the oil rig explosion scene is perfectly staged with a right sense of claustrophobic tension and heightened intensity. Berg also made good use of the US$156 million budget to ensure the overall special effects are realistic and immersive enough to behold. Best of all, Berg also successfully captures the horror of being trapped in an oil rig with all the explosions, uncontrollable flame and billowing smoke.

Peter Berg's fact-based disaster drama may have been too technical for the first hour or so, but DEEPWATER HORIZON gets better once the explosion starts while all the actors here give their perfectly non-showy performances. 

* This review is written courtesy from GSC press screening *

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