Deepwater Horizon: Engaging Retelling of One of History’s Worst Environmental Disasters
Taking on the real-life disaster that was the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is no easy feat – and turning it into a thrillingly immersive and effectively engaging movie is another thing altogether. Luckily, Deepwater Horizon is in good hands with Peter Berg – see Lone Survivor – and his favourite leading man, Mark Wahlberg, delivering a thrilling ride in the rousing the haunting account of a devastating incident that, up until today, is considered to have caused one of the largest accidental marine oil spills in the world.
The story is set on Mike (Wahlberg); an electrician and oil rig worker who is preparing for another three-week job working aboard the Deepwater Horizon – a semi-submersible offshore drilling unit, operating some forty miles of the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico. Leaving his wife, Felicia (Hudson), and their ten-year-old daughter, Sydney behind, Mike soon boards the Horizon along with his boss, Mr. Jimmy (Russell), – a man concerned with the lack of safety regulations taken on by the BP officials which include BP rig supervisor, Donald Vidrine (Malkovich) – Andrea Fleytas (Rodriguez) and one of the youngest member of the crew, Caleb Holloway (O’Brien).
Despite Jimmy’s protests, the drill is given the green-light, resulting in an immediate disaster caused by an overpowering flow of mud and gas rushing back through the pipes. Ripping up the vessel into pieces, before consuming it in flames, Mike, along with Caleb and Andrea, takes on the the chaos and panic in order to help others and guide themselves and everyone else to safety.
Scripted by Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand – who took their cue from New York Times article titled Deepwater Horizon’s Final Hours – the story takes its time to build-up the dangerous and somewhat lonely world the characters live in before eventually diving head-first into the disaster that awaits. Though the language used is unapologetically technical and sometimes keeping up with the jargon can be a little tiring, the story is also careful to keep things as realistic as possible, defiantly painting the BP executives – John Malkovich’s Donald in particular – as the villains of the story.
Skilfully embracing the ‘hows’, ‘whys’ and ‘whens’ of the incident without ever relying on over-explanation the aesthetic of the movie, especially when the story turns on the disaster mode, are aptly gritty, giving the film an authentic feel.
Performances wise, Wahlberg plays his usual cool, swashbuckling self, while Malkovich shines as the smarmy BP engineer. Hudson is equally solid as Mike’s wife and Jane the Virgin’s very own Gina Rodriguez is given the opportunity to show off the more dramatic side of her acting skills.
Despite occasionally dipping into Hollywood action territory, all in all, Deepwater Horizon is a solid, real-life disaster flick which delivers big action, strong drama and a harrowing insight into one of the largest environmental disasters in US history.