Review: Deepwater Horizon

The second in a trilogy of films from Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg, next up being Patriots Day which will be reviewed here very soon, based on real-life events, in this case the disaster that occurred when the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded, creating the worst oil spill in U.S. history in 2010. Once the explosion began, every man and woman on the rig had to fight for their safety and to get out alive. Also starring: Kurt Russell, James Dumont, Gina Rodriguez, Brad Leland, John Malkovich, Dylan O’Brien, Kate Hudson and Ethan Suplee.

Mark Wahlberg is without doubt the heart of this film, it is a team effort but the focus stays predominantly on him throughout as Mark Williams and it’s to their advantage; Wahlberg gives an impressive performance, it may be easy to not take him seriously because of his roles in films like Ted or Daddy’s Home but here he proves again, he’s more than that. It’s a performance rooted in strength, as things descend into chaos and destruction, it’s not emotion that makes it impressive, it’s a portrayal resilience and determination. As mentioned, it is definitely a team effort, each of the individual performances enhance the film, you need that sense of camaraderie and Russell, Rodriguez and O’Brien particularly provide that and each of them give a good performance.

The power of the film itself comes from the reality of it, of course this is a dramatization but it was a huge disaster, it should not have happened and people died, 11 people in fact. That sort of event gives the film meaning, it’s tragic and moving and Deepwater Horizon does manage to capture that, most strongly it captures the danger and risk, giving the audience just a glimpse of how terrifying that day must have been for the men and women on the rig. It is a shame that despite a perfect song choice (X Ambassadors, “Eye of the Storm”) for the trailer, it makes no appearance in the film and the score provided by Steve Jablonsky is not as powerful as would be appropriate, although it isn’t entirely surprising given the last film he worked on was TMNT: Out of the Shadows, the score needed a better depth. However the film does generally lean quite heavily on the action elements, it was not really avoidable given the drastic nature of events but the emotions don’t always find their way to the forefront. Regardless of that, the film will draw a few tears, especially the life and death risk for each and every character becomes real.

Deepwater Horizon was a disaster that was talked about throughout the world for the damage the oil spill caused but what Peter Berg and writers Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand, as well as the authors of the original article, have given audiences is the other half of the story that needed to be talked about. It’s tragic and the film has reflected that, it may not quite reach its potential for being powerful but it’s a film full of poignancy and resilience that gives a whole new perspective.

Verdict: 7/10

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