Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez, John Malkovich, Dylan O’Brien, Kate Hudson, Ethan Suplee
Directed By: Peter Berg
Plot: Based on the true story of the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico that was one of the top headline stories of that year. The film puts Mike Williams (Wahlberg) as the hero and protagonist in the day leading up to the disaster that took 11 lives.
What Works: Peter Berg definitely has something to say to BP. I think he made this film to show that the crew of the Deepwater Horizon was not responsible for this tragedy, but rather a few higher ups at BP were making some terrible decisions that day. It’s an honorable film for telling the side of the story that not many people know. Malkovich is great as the films primary antagonist, and Kurt Russell and Gina Rodriguez both do solid work as “supporting leads” to Wahlberg. And Ethan Suplee and Dylan O’Brien do good work, with significantly less screen time. The special effects mostly work, except when they’re too fast or too dark, and the film does a good job of pacing itself. Also, the film has a decent resolution, but loses me when it decides to only tell me what happened to the main three characters, and the BP businessmen.
What Doesn’t Work: The cast of unknowns lets this film down. Not that they’re not good, but if we’re supposed to care about the eleven lives lost, it’s a little hard when we don’t recognize the actors. On top of that, Berg pairs the unknowns with rapid pace editing, so sometimes we’re not even sure if someone just died, let alone who that was. His ignorance carries on to the credits, where he pays tribute to the lives lost that day by showing us pictures of what they really looked like. It would have meant so much more if we had actually known who these people were in the film, by at least pairing the pictures with the actors on screen, so we can actually associate them with a specific scene or moment. Recognizable faces would have helped a bit, but I still can’t remember every characters name. They made zero effort to cast Wahlberg and Hudson as look alikes to their real-life counterparts, so I don’t know why it would have mattered for other roles. Wahlberg does OK here, its just that the film doesn’t give him much to do emotionally, which is a problem. Yes, he does break down after everything is said and done, but I need more range when the shit is actually going down. It is possible to have both.
Final Word: A tense film that will have you rallying against BP all over again. It is an uneven film, but its heart is in the right place. However, I noticed this film is an IMAX release, and if you must see this in theatres, I cannot condone wasting money on IMAX. There are only a few moments that would be worth it out of a two hour movie. I’m talking, just a few cools shots. The whole first two-thirds (almost) is setup. The actual disaster is the third act, and there’s a lot of people talking about what they should do next, and running through hallways. Save your IMAX money for something with a bigger punch.
FINAL GRADE: B-