Monday, October 3, 2016

[Review] Deepwater Horizon

With the Fall season blowing in, we're in for a wave of 'based on true events' films, kicking off with last month's Sully. Here, director Peter Berg (Lone Survivor) depicts 2010's BP oil spill in Deepwater Horizon--a disaster flick that's so wet and muddy that you might catch a cold while watching it.

Early on, we're introduced to electronics technician and family man Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), a perfectly cast Kurt Russell as a concerned safety chief, and a positioning officer named Andrea (played by Gina Rodriguez, who's wonderful in "Jane the Virgin"), as they all aboard a massive semi-submersible oil-drilling rig that's parked off the coast of Louisiana.

Along with some amusing banter between the crew, and Mark Wahlberg yelling over loud machinery, the steady buildup conveys a lot of in-your-face foreshadowing and technical explanations. If all the scientistic terms and diagrams make your head implode, all you really need to know is that there's something severely wrong with the vessel's equipment down below.

Once things do go awry (to put it lightly), the film launches into an explosive and chaotic intensity. Peter Berg's direction is taut and immersive, reminiscent of another stark re-creation specialist named Paul Greengrass (United 93, Captain Phillips). Berg has a knack for staging remarkably visceral action as pipes burst, rooms blow out, and flames erupt. And like Lone Survivor, the film also focuses on the physical and painful blasts that the characters endure--whiplash and crashes against heavy metal, scorching burns, and shards of glass to the eyes.

Thematically, the narrative takes a rapid view into the decision-making dilemmas that arise during crisis, especially when the situation is so out-of-whack and there's not enough time to wait for orders from higher-ups. The film's detailing of the story is very straightforward in its tact--greed was at work, things were overlooked, human lives were lost, animals and ecosystems suffered--which is why the thick layer of melodrama during the ending stretch seems overwrought and un-needed, especially given how gritty, potent, and proficient everything that comes before it is. Still, Deepwater Horizon remains a thrilling and well-executed portrayal of a recent, horrific event.

( 8/10 )

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1 comment:

  1. I was wondering about this one, as I'm often hit or miss with Berg's films. But I'm intrigued by your positive review. Also love the Greengrass comparison.