Deepwater Horizon movie review: Mark Wahlberg plays saviour in this disaster drama
Once disaster strikes Deepwater Horizon becomes a standard issue Mark Wahlberg movie where he has to rescue everyone around him and leap off to safety in the last minute
Director Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg earlier made Lone Survivor a few years ago, which delved into good old-fashioned American heroism in real life mission impossible type physically stressful situations. The pair is back for Deepwater Horizon, another drama thriller that traverses similar territory but has slightly more effective results.
This time we’re taken back to the real life 2010 oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, which turned out to be the biggest US environmental disaster of all time. Wahlberg plays Mike, a family man who heads out for three weeks to the oil rig Deepwater Horizon to work with his boss Jimmy (Kurt Russell). Aboard the rig he’s shocked to see the carelessness the BP Oil execs have displayed in running it. Many security protocols are forgotten to save a few bucks and Mike realises that something will go very wrong very soon. Sure enough, there’s a malfunction and the rig goes up in flames, rapidly taking down everyone aboard and threatening a large scale environmental gaffe.
Once disaster strikes Deepwater Horizon becomes a standard issue Wahlberg movie where he has to rescue everyone around him and leap off to safety in the last minute. What makes this slightly more interesting than a usual disaster movie is that the film explains what exactly went wrong with the oil rig and how the malfunction actually happened. Especially since it recreates a real life incident the film does a good job of spelling it out in simple words how mud and gas suddenly went up the rigging pipes because of lack of expenditure on maintenance, and how everything that is going wrong could be fixed with proper scientific methods.
The film also refreshingly doesn’t pull any punches on the evilness of the BP execs responsible for this disaster. The ‘main BP villain’ named Donald is played by John Malkovich with an ‘evil’ accent and makes no attempt to hide his smarmy behavior in cutting down costs to make the operation environment friendly. It gives the audience a chance to really despise the Donald character and give BP the hate that they deserve, even when the actual monster of the film, the oil rig is spewing fire and killing everyone on board.
Most of the action set pieces are quite nightmarish, as Wahlberg and his people run around trying to avoid being burnt, dodging falling cranes and being hit by debris. Mike’s wife (played by Kate Hudson) serves as the audience’s eyes who watches the nightmare unfold on TV reports and is helpless, fearing for the lives of everyone on board. Like most of Berg’s films Deepwater Horizon is technically solid and is fortunately less jingoistic than you expect it to be. Unlike most of his previous work celebrating American heroism isn’t the centerpiece as much as introspecting about large corporations and how their greed can spell disaster for the whole world.
It’s not a great film per se because you still get the disaster movie clichés you have seen a hundred times in similar movies, and Wahlberg isn’t exactly the most charming person you tend to root for. But it’s an effective one considering the social message it renders.
Watch the trailer here:
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