Deepwater Horizon (2016): Film Review

Directed by: Peter Berg
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell
Viewed: Showcase Cinema De Lux Leicester, 11/10/16

On 2010, an oil rig burst into flames after exploding off the Gulf of Mexico. Most of us will remember seeing it in the news, including the trials and tribulations that followed. Deepwater Horizon provides a cinematic telling of the build up to this event and the disaster that followed for those on board. I can think of no better way to describe this film than it is utterly relentless.

Despite the fact that due to the true nature of these events, and in turn, we know what is coming, the early parts of the film never feel wasted. Even from the earliest stages of the film, we are bombarded with fast paced dialogue and quick editing. Whilst at times it does make you feel like you wish things would slow down a little, it sets the tone for the chaos that will later ensue. Despite this, I felt nothing but tension in the build up to the inevitable explosion, gripping my arm rest constantly wondering ‘is this the moment that all hell is going to break loose?’. When all hell does finally break loose, it is a gripping and terrifying depiction of events, with things never slowing down for more than a minute at a time.

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Mark Wahlberg does provide a good performance as Mike Williams, though he conveys a sense of calm collectedness that isn’t always believable, which at times makes it obvious that he is playing a character, removing us from the authenticity of the film and making it more difficult to connect with him on a human level. This can be forgiven with the phenomenal, yet brief, performance he brings in the final act. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel much connection with most of the supporting cast either, who were pretty one dimensional at the best of times. The exception being Kurt Russell, whose on screen presence drowns out the rest of the cast, making him the most charismatic and likeable character in the entire story. I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on with John Malkovich, who comes across as very eccentric, which unless is representative of the character’s real life counter-part, it didn’t really add much to what is essentially this stories villain.

Deepwater Horizon is a non-stop thrill that highlights the greed of man. A few of the same shots seemed to be used more than once, though only a minor complaint, as the way the damned oil rig was shot was nothing short of superb. Terror, suspension and fear are what drive this to be memorable amongst great disaster films.

Deepwater Horizon is well worthing watching – 7/10

Fun fact – An entire oil rig was built for this film and is considered the largest set piece ever built for a film.

Stuart Keating