STORY: Workers, engineers and corporate heads try to escape the Deepwater Horizon oil rig after a devastating explosion.
REVIEW: Deepwater Horizon lies somewhere between an epic disaster movie and a dramatic retelling of a devastating incident. But it definitely leans more towards the former.
It even follows the disaster-movie rulebook: first, we see the tiny cracks that will blow up into something bigger. Next come the happy-sleepy lives of soon-to-be victims, followed by aerial shots of the explosion site in pristine condition. And finally, we’re thrown into the eye of the storm.
Mike (Mark Wahlberg), Jimmy (Kurt Russell) and Andrea (Gina Rodriguez) all report to the Deepwater Horizon oil rig for duty. Jimmy soon realizes that the company that commissioned this drilling expedition is ready to overlook safety measures for quick results. He tries to put his foot down but loses to corporate hierarchy. Work resumes and soon enough, tragedy strikes.
The highlight is a scene where Mike’s daughter uses a soda can, a metal tube and some oil to demonstrate on a small scale, what will eventually happen on site. It is part of the beautifully cut trailer that raises expectations.
But the expectations start to plummet when, 45 minutes into the movie, you have oil rig jargon coming out of your ears. The screenplay, adapted from a New York Times article, sadly only picks up the technical details, leaving the human stories behind. The explosion thus comes as a much-needed adrenaline shot that boosts the movie into action-extravaganza territory. It is enjoyable hereon, but it beats the purpose. Instead of underlining the horrors of the incident, the movie glamorizes the explosion as a Michael Bay-esque plot point that leads to heroic survival tactics.
In a surprisingly understated performance, Mark Wahlberg is convincing as a regular oil rig worker who finds strength within. He even gets a few chuckles out of you. Kate Hudson’s vulnerable wife act brings calm to the chaos.
As an informative piece on the catastrophe at the Deepwater Horizon, the movie just doesn’t dig deep enough. But as a visually rich disaster movie, it passes the test.