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Deepwater Horizon

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Disaster movies are a dime a dozen, which has been the case for many years. People flock to these types of movies because there’s just something compelling about mass pandemonium mixed with epic chaos. Many are so far fetched that you can’t help but like them. Personally speaking, The Day After Tomorrow (2004) is one of those movies that is stupidly unbelievable, yet whenever it’s on I struggle to change the station. I suppose I’m a sucker for such movies but I’ll take solace in the fact that I’m not alone. Deepwater Horizon fits neatly into this sub-genre and to add even more to its cache of worthiness, it’s based on true events that occurred less than seven years ago.

Oil is a big money business. Actually it’s one of the BIGGEST businesses in terms of revenue generated. With that being said, it should come as little surprise that there is little room for error or delay in this particular industry. After all, time is money. Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) is the leader of a crew that operates on a oil rig called Deepwater Horizon. The vessel is currently in the Gulf of Mexico going through the final stages of preparing a site for oil production. Due to time constraints from being weeks behind schedule, executives from BP make the decision to cut a few corners and circumvent several procedures in order to turn this site into a goldmine. These hasty decisions would have dire consequences as both BP and the company that owns the oil rig, Transocean, move towards reckless decisions that will lead to the single largest oil spill in US history.

Mark Wahlberg (Daddy’s Home (2015)) stars as Mike Williams who is the lead in Deepwater Horizon, aside from the rig itself of course. Director Peter Berg (Battleship (2012)) went back to the familiar face of Wahlberg whom he also directed in Lone Survivor (2013). If these two can somehow channel the same energy experienced in that first project of theirs, well watch out world. Also starring in the biographical drama are Kate Hudson (Rock the Kasbah (2015)), Gina Rodriguez (CW’s Jane the Virgin), Dylan O’Brien (The Maze Runner (2014)) and John Malkovich (RED 2 (2013)).

From a factual standpoint, Deepwater Horizon appears to keep things pretty close to what actually happened according to many corroborated narratives. And with Peter Berg behind the camera you can bet your behind that he will do all that he can to safeguard the integrity of the facts as he’s done with other films in his past. He seems very much dedicated to bringing entertainment to the eyes of many but also respecting the overall stories themselves. His latest work is no exception in that regard, since it didn’t happen all that long ago, it’s pretty easy to research and that Berg played pretty much everything as it actually went down. Where his vision falters just a bit is in the visualization of the story he’s telling.

Since we’re dealing with explosions and excessive oil, there are many times where the viewer is lost as to which characters were in danger of losing their lives. I couldn’t help but think back to Everest (2015) as it had that same challenge. Only instead of fire and smoke you were dealing with snow and….more snow! The emotional ties were more after-the-fact reactions for that movie because you didn’t know which character dealt with life changing events until their identities were visually verified on screen. That throws off the emotional attachment just enough to where that one part of your brain reminds you that this is just a silly movie. Unfortunately I found that Deepwater Horizon walks step for step in that same path. At least it does for me.

The horrific event that occurred during that time and the aftermath that followed should never be forgotten. Deepwater Horizon is one step closer to making that happen. Even so, like I said, there are flaws. Thankfully no one expects anything to be perfect, especially with a true story, so it is what it is. You’ll get entertainment, thrills and emotional undertones hurled at you in a steady dosage throughout. And kudos again to Mr. Berg for not making this some three hour anthology. Go with what you know and work with what you’ve got. He does that with Mark Wahlberg and that should position this movie to have moderate success in the box office. Check it out in theaters right now.

Deepwater Horizon is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler

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