At first, I wasn’t entirely sure what this story was about. I knew it was about an oil rig that got destroyed, but it wasn’t until later that I realized that this was the prelude event that lead to the 2010 BP oil spill; the greatest environmental disaster in American history. Not gonna lie, though, I didn’t know that going in and it wasn’t until the day after I saw this movie that I realized what this story really was. My ignorant ass assumed that some factory had an accident and caused all this damage. As a result of my ignorance, I went into this movie almost indifferent, having not connected the dots.
Time to look at the cast. Wahlberg is always great to watch and has become one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood, ranging from comedies like THE OTHER GUYS (2010) and the Ted movies, to action films like TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (2014) and MAX PAYNE (2008), to dramas like THE FIGHTER (2010) and THE PERFECT STORM (2000). He’s been reliable to churn out the right performance for the right movie and he’s never really disappointed. Kurt Russell, a living legend and ever popular actor famous for THE THING (1982), ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981), and STARGATE (1994). Gina Rodriguez, generally a TV actor that’s had brief appearances, or unheard-of movies, but recently has seen success in the hit TV show JANE THE VIRGIN. Rounding this out, Dylan O’Brien (THE INTERNSHIP , The Maze Runner films, and TV show TEEN WOLF. Glad to see you’re on the mend, dude), Kate Hudson (MOTHER’S DAY , HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS , and ALMOST FAMOUS ), and John Malkovich (BEING JOHN MALKOVICH , BURN AFTER READING , and CON AIR ).
Now for behind the scenes. Directing is Peter Berg, who’s done such films as LONE SURVIVOR (2013), HANCOCK (2008), and FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (2004), which spawned the popular TV series of the same name. Weirdly enough, he also directed the critically and commercially colossal failure BATTLESHIP (2012). Penning the script is Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand. Carnahan’s written films such as WORLD WAR Z (2013), LIONS FOR LAMBS (2007), and THE KINGDOM (2007). His partner-in-pen Sand hasn’t written much, but his last script was NINJA ASSASSIN (2009). That’s literally all he has to his name. The man behind the music is veteran composer Steve Jablonksy. His career stretches as far back 2003’s THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, and has worked steadily ever since. He’s also done TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS (2016), KEANU (2016), all of the Transformers films, LONE SURVIVOR and so many more. And for all you gamers out there, he’s also done the music for video games GEARS OF WAR 2 (2008) and 3 (2011). Finally, the film’s cinematographer is Enrique Chediak. He’s done films such as THE 5TH WAVE (2016), THE MAZE RUNNER (2014), and 28 WEEKS LATER (2007).
Overall, I was going in with curiosity, but obvious ignorance. It sure looked amazing, I couldn’t deny that. So let’s get to it. This is my honest opinion of DEEPWATER HORIZON.
Based on true events, taking place in 2010. Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell), Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez), among others are part of the oil rig Deepwater Horizon, scheduled to be gone from their homes for a few weeks. However, things get frustratingly complicated as the big wigs from the company they work for attempts to bypass safety measures due to being nearly a month behind schedule. But while Jimmy is able to push against the worst of their ideas, he still can’t fight against them being too thorough. While their initial tests for drilling further are successful, further test are ignored, resulting in a horribly devastating explosion of pressure that rips through the entire oil rig and an explosion that kills eleven men and the survivors frantically looking for others and escaping.
Let me tell you something I’ve noticed from some of the best movies I’ve seen. In INSIDE OUT (2015), I cried at all the scenes I was supposed to cry in because the story had been building up to that emotional payoff that the rest of the film supported. Pieces of a puzzle were put in place until the big beautiful emotional picture was revealed. But let’s face it, you don’t cry before those scenes take place. You cry as those scenes take place. What’s my point and how does it relate to this movie? DEEPWATER HORIZON is a unique phenomenon in my cinematic movie experience in which as soon as the action kicks off, I’m choking up all the way through the runtime. The emotional payoff is the entirety of the movie.
Now, this might be a good time to mention that this may be a pretty short review. I mean, yes, the actors are phenomenal. Every last one. But for those of you who might now know me too well, I think it’s more important to comment on what I believe to be the most important aspect of any story based on true events: the accuracy of the film.
Details can be found here:
To sum up the articles, Mike’s heroisms are a tad exaggerated in the film, he didn’t really save Jimmy, the decision to ignore addition safety procedures wasn’t made by one man, but rather the company big wigs that he reported to, so it seems like it was more or less certain details that were presented that were slightly tweeked and certain details regarding the real event were left out of the movie. Like, there were fishermen and students aboard the Horizon during the inferno.
Here’s my theory behind some of these changes.
Let’s start with who’s to blame for the incident. It could be that this movie is supposed to be in Mike’s point of view, and the movie is only relaying what he himself knew about everything, rather than the tried and true facts of what happened, possibly to keep it locked in a human story rather than a heavily dramatized documentary. Maybe in his perspective, Vidrine (John Malkovich) really is the bad guy and even Mike didn’t know the whole story behind the scenes. It’s also possible that they pulled an EDDIE THE EAGLE (2016). Vidrine in the film isn’t meant to be an accurate representation of the real man, much like Hugh Jackman’s character Bronson Perry doesn’t exist. He’s an amalgamation of Eddie the Eagle’s real-life coaches. The man doesn’t exist, but the methods used to train Eddie and the words said to inspire Eddie were real. The spirit of the two men were accurately portrayed, even if the actual man was fictional. I might argue that Vidrine in the movie plays a similar role: he’s not supposed to be Vidrine in real life, he’s supposed to represent Vidrine and the entire company BP, Transocean, etc. So technically, we are getting the facts of what happened, just not from the specific sources. Vidrine wasn’t the ultimate jack-off that caused the disaster. If blame was food, there would have been enough to end world hunger and get everyone fat.
Regardless of the decisions made, you know there’s a few idiots out there that will watch this movie and take everything they see at face value and claim it to be 100 percent factual, when the reality of it all is different. It’s a shame that the film takes those liberties and couldn’t do more with it. If it were me, I would have written Vidrine to be more accurate to the real man, that he was just following orders over the phone with his superiors who were really the inconsiderate fucks that led to this catastrophe. How much more could be said if all you heard was a voice telling Vidrine what to do, but no real face to go with it? Isn’t that kind of how the real thing went down anyway? Notice how a lot of the blame goes toward BP, Transocean, etc, but no specific names. There’s no John Doe that we’ve prosecuted, just the companies as a whole. How much digging would the average joe have to dig through the ocean of dirt we call the Internet to actually find specific names to hold accountable?
Also, according to what I’ve read, the fishermen and students were completely pushed to the wayside, not even referenced. That’s… kind of strange, in a bad way. The only reasons I can think of for leaving them out of the story is, one, keeping it with Mike’s perspective and maybe he didn’t have any contact with those folks? Ehhh, more likely it was a pacing issue. More characters to get invested in, it could get a little crowded. Still… kind of a jip.
In the end, I don’t think that’s why this movie was made. There’s documentaries and TV specials that go into detail about everything that happened, so I’d like to think this movie isn’t about information. It’s about survival and the perseverance of the human spirit and honoring the lives of the men that died that fateful day with the men who survived, and giving us a front seat to the chaos is Mike Williams.
This isn’t an easy film to watch, guys. Some may call it an action movie, a disaster flick, but to me, this would be more closely considered a horror film. Dumb decisions made at the expense of human lives, the sheer scope and scale of the destruction, and Wahlberg’s heart-wrenching performance is nothing short of a marvel, making this one of my favorite movies with him. Maybe the information provided isn’t wholly accurate, and some facts get completely brushed off, but it’s an emotional and horrifying film, and I think it should it should be seen by one and all.
My honest rating for DEEPWATER HORIZON: recommended – a must see.
- AMERICAN HONEY