About six years ago one of the largest man-made ecological disasters occurred on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. A failure so catastrophic that ripple-effects of the incident can still be felt to this day. Most of us were glued to our televisions over the course of 87 days while 3.9 million gallons of oil poured into the sea. We focused our attention on BP and what could possibly be done to stop the tragedy. Director Peter Berg (Lone Survivor) has again teamed up with Mark Walberg (The Fighter) this time to tell the untold story of the heroic men and women who faced remarkable circumstances with exceptional bravery on one of our darkest days.
Mike Williams (Wallberg) is dedicated to his family and his career as the Chief Electronics Officer aboard the Deepwater Horizon. His work requires him to leave his wife (Kate Hudson) and daughter (Stella Allen) behind for weeks at a time, a sacrifice that he doesn't take lightly as he is fully aware of the risk he takes every time he says goodbye. Walberg is at his best when playing salt of the earth characters. In films like THE FIGHTER, LONE SURVIVOR or even THE PERFECT STORM he brings a grounded performance and humanity to men in extraordinary situations.
Mr. Jimmy (Kurt Russell) is the offshore installation manager and the man in charge of the entire crew. He is the one individual aboard the ship with the authority and nerve to question the BP executives when they reach dubious conclusions. We have reached a point where the 80's glory of Russell's mullet has been trumped by the distinction of his 00's facial hair. In films like BONE TOMAHAWK and HATEFUL EIGHT his whiskers deserved their own screen credit and DEEPWATER HORIZON continues that glorious tradition.
Don Vidrine (John Malkovich) is the just shy of mustache twirling company man who sees safety as an obstacle in the way of profit. A strange accent and questionable motives make this a character that Malkovich can chew up the scenery with. I could see how some people might find his performance distracting but I was fully onboard and loved watching him disappear into his character.
DEEPWATER HORIZON is a satisfying powder keg of a movie. Berg slowly ratchets up the tension and once all hell breaks loose we as an audience are barely given a chance to breathe. The film has stunning visual effects and some of the most impressive sound design I've heard. There are a few quite moments towards the end of the film that showed incredible restraint and confidence from the filmmaker. It's difficult to changes gears suddenly and not have it feel like the tranny is about to fall out but Berg nearly pulls it off without a bump.
While it would be easy to compare DEEPWATER HORIZON to DEAD AHEAD: THE EXXON VALDEZ DISASTER it plays like something closer to TORA! TORA! TORA! or the final act of TITANIC.
This is a character-driven disaster story that's has a few miss steps and some minor flaws but is ultimately a gratifying experience.
DEEPWATER HORIZON opens on Friday 9/30