Written by Nelson Cumming
I originally didn’t care about seeing Deepwater Horizon until a friend recommended it to me and when I learned about the subject matter. I’m glad I listened and learned. Learning is good. Listening is good. Everything is good. There are good performances, tension, and explosions. Yes, you heard me, explosions. I praised explosions.
Well, explosions are what you expect when you mix gallons and gallons of crude oil spurting out at high pressure with a single spark. This movie is based on the true story of the BP oil spill and the majority of the story consists of the workers trying to escape the oil rig that’s burning down in front of them.
Explosions, Explosions, Explosions
To elaborate on the explosions I believe they helped add narrative stakes to the story. In other words, I believed in the threat of death that the majority of characters are trying to avoid. There are about twenty to thirty minutes of explosions during the narrative climax. That’s enough to make Michael Bay jealous expect that in Deepwater Horizon, the explosions served a purpose.
What I also cannot believe is the effort a cinematographer called Enrique Chediak does. He is doing long shots of the oil rig and spins the camera nearly 360 degrees around the large area, he gets the low angle close-up shots of the workers being flung around the room like a ragdoll, he also gets into the ocean and shoots footage of the pipes from the inside struggling to handle the pressure. He was awesome.
A Trinity of Good Acting
The other thing I have to compliment on is the performances of Mark Whalberg, Kurt Russell, and John Malkovich. Whalberg plays his role as the hero with determination, knowledge and empathy for his workers; Russell is the Commander in Chief and he is just a legitimate tough guy when you see what he does under adversity and Malkovich is good at playing the cringeworthy, bad guy. Malkovich plays a BP worker.
There is great chemistry with Malkovich and Russell. You need to see the political game Malkovich tries to play and how much Russell tries to relent. Russell’s reaction to Malkovich when he realizes he caused the explosion was the best part of the story. After all the business pressure and the physical damage, you fully realize Russell is the Winner and Malkovich is the loser. The performances were not Oscar worthy but they were admirable.
Minor Criticisms: I am Picky
Despite all this praise, the movie did have a lot of little problems. Most of which happened in the first quarter The dialogue for the first 20 minutes was boring to say the least and the foreshadowing scenes were so obvious that I nearly felt patronized. They were little things but a lot of them were only mildly annoying like the feeling you get when a fly is buzzing around you constantly. At least it wasn’t as painful as a slap to the face or a kick to the crotch.
Does Deepwater Horizon match up to a lot of the great disaster movies I have seen in recent years: No. Does Deepwater Horizon leave me happy to have seen it: Yes ***1/2