| A story set on the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, which exploded during April 2010 and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
As you would expect from other disaster movies which celebrate the human spirit (and of course the all mighty American heroism… sigh), this one features stories of how characters led others to rescue fellow crew members. You also get the corporate villain who is conveniently painted as the one single cause of the disaster. But at the end of the day, you will still be thrilled by the harrowing action sequences that will leave you hoping that you will never have to face such a situation. Putting Battleship aside, Berg has always had a knack for directing high intensity sequences of trauma and thrills. Even taking that note into a smaller scale with Friday Night Lights, Berg is great at managing to balance intensity and emotion. Deepwater Horizon is perhaps his biggest scale film thus far.
The story attempts to gain empathy with all involved but there wasn’t enough emotional investment with the family and I’m sure that was the purpose of Kate Hudson’s part, to add a realistic humility to the happenings that would normally go amiss when watching this on the news. It tried again at the end but misses it’s mark. The film focuses on the individuals involved which is honourable and understandable, but I feel they should have included the consequential aftermath of this event, the massive operation launched to help protect the marine ecosystems, the spill spanning 68k square miles. Not only did it have a devastating impact on the environment and marine life, but damaged the tourism, international relations and in more ways than one, the economy.
The visual effects are top notch in terms of computer graphic imaging. Deepwater Horizon’s reconstruction of an oil rig succumbing to its doom is very realistic. For you technical folks, the directors have crafted scenes to mimic the daily operations involved with pumping oil, from watching gritty mud flow through the pipe to the cracking foundation floor. That sound boring? Well those looking for a little more suspense will be impressed when the whole operation blows to pieces. You might be amazed seeing the rig, and its crew, get covered in oil before erupting into a fiery inferno you’ve seen in the trailers.
In regards to the editing, this one is a tough call to make. On the one hand I appreciate the details they provide about the incident, from the development of the disaster to how they faced the inferno the rig became. And yet, I felt some of it was elaborated too much for my liking. The build up was a little too long and drawn out, making it slightly boring as we waited for the dirt to hit the pipe. As the oil begins to bloom into a fountain the pace picks up, but then hits a very slow, somewhat pointless, standstill at the aftermath of the situation. Yes, it provides realism and rounding out of the characters, but again is a little too extended after all the excitement. They probably could have spared about fifteen minutes.
As an action film, Deepwater Horizon works well. For certain, audiences will not bored through the blasts and heroics of our protagonists. But as I said before the film does falter is in its emotional appeal. We get a small glimpse into the home life of Mike Williams (his wife is played by Kate Hudson who acts with father Kurt Russell for the first time), the film doesn’t pull at the heartstrings for the eleven souls lost that fateful April evening. They are memorialized before the end credits role, but they are lost in the shuffle of action packed sequences that consume the 107-minute running time of Deepwater Horizon. It doesn’t take you out of the film, but you will feel like it could have been handled differently.