The true story of the largest oil spill in U.S. history has been brought to life in an intense way. “Deepwater Horizon” tells the story of the explosion of a British Petroleum oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and the actions of the brave men and women on board. Peter Berg’s follow up to “Lone Survivor” continues his streak of gut-wrenching, larger-than-life stories about the bravery and perseverance of people.
A film that originally looks like it might be angled toward making BP seem less villainous, it quickly becomes clear that is not the case. In a strong performance, John Malkovich heads the team of BP executives that bypass safety regulations for what is succinctly described as “money, money, money.” Malkovich plays Donald Vidrine, head of BP’s corporate team on the oil rig and southern money hungry boss, who paints a perfect opposite to Kurt Russell and Mark Wahlberg’s working class characters.
What made this movie really work were the performances by Russell and Wahlberg. They both hit their stride very quickly into the film. As soon as they were introduced, they took over the film. With some thoughtful editing choices, the audience is placed firmly on their side of things for the rest of the movie. Toward the end of the film is when Wahlberg really shines. In one of his better recent performances, he features in gut-wrenching scenes both on and off the rig.
The dramatization of the entire event is artfully crafted. The story could have easily devolved into a cliché disaster movie with little to no substance, but Peter Berg deftly paces it so that everything has real emotional weight. Watching the movie is almost like being on the rig itself. The heat and mud is everywhere, the explosions are overwhelming and the efforts from the crew feel absolutely real. Even before the accident, the movie is as interesting as ever. If there was no explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, the movie would be still be engaging and emotional. The incident brings home the film and the heroics finish on a high note.