“Deepwater Horizon” Review

The disaster movie has evolved quite a bit hasn’t it?  From the romanticized classics (The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure, Airport, The Andromeda Strain, etc.) to the effects-focused box office smashers of the 90s (Armageddon, Independence Day, Dante’s Peak, Twister, etc.) to the Roland Emmerich formula (i.e. paper thin characters that are secondary to mass destruction) films of today like 2012 and San Andreas.  What makes Deepwater Horizon an excellent modern disaster flick is its brilliant combination of the action/visuals of a 90s disaster film, with the dramatic heft of a 70s disaster movie.  Initially I did not think this film was going to have any dignity or truth.  I love when movies exceed expectations.

Deepwater Horizon is directed by Peter Berg and written by Matthew Michael Carnnahan, and Matthew Sand.  Stars-Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Gina Rodriguez, and Dylan O’Brian.  Premise-The crew aboard oil rig Deepwater Horizon are in danger after a security test goes horribly wrong.  Based on the BP oil spill of 2010.

Peter Berg has always directed action films.  From the extremely underrated The Rundown, to the epic fail Battleship, and the dramatic Lone Survivor.  None of which are perfect, but each are entertaining.  With the upcoming Patriots Day, I think he’s found his niche.  Dramatic survivor movies based off of real events starring Mark Wahlberg.  To his credit, Berg did justice to the story.  I can tell from the attention to character in Deepwater Horizon.  The film is one of the best paced movies of 2016; it spends time not only introducing characters, but giving them funny interactions to show off their chemistry.  The dialogue delivers exposition very well, more so than I expected.  None of these characters are superheroes, but they sympathize with the audience due to their likable personalities and “everyman” appeal.  That is with the exception of the BP executives (the leader is played by Malkovich), who are your typical unlikeable, greedy corporate leaders.  One thing is certain; the cast does an excellent job in the movie.  The tone shifts quickly and the danger rises even faster, but the performances (especially Wahlberg and Russell) remained strong.

Since this is a disaster movie that is not directed by Roland Emmerich, there is going to be an attempt to create a realistic scenario for the audience to place themselves in.  The sound, sets, and F/X are thoroughly convincing.  The stunt work is also impeccable, when the bodies go flying (sorry), it looks real.  It is as uch an experience movie as any.

If you were expecting this movie to be much more than a disaster/thriller (like I was), then you’ll be disappointed.  This movie is not Spotlight.  It doesn’t spend more than a few lines of text on the screen before the end credits going over the damage this disaster caused.  Honestly, that is a good thing.  The film focuses on the people on the rig instead of the after effects.  Granted, it does try to be symbolic or include some commentary every now and then.  Sadly, every time the movie does this, it is Matrix levels of obvious.  The movie is at its best when it “tells it straight.”  Not to say that it never tugs at the heart strings.  There is a silent moment at the end that (while a satisfactory conclusion), impacts the characters and the audience with the weight of the situation.  Many emotions are present on the screen, and not everyone gets a happy ending.  Let’s just say that this movie could not have ended more appropriately.

As far as action films go, Deepwater Horizon entertains.  As far as dramas go, Deepwater Horizon invests.  As far as good movies go, Deepwater Horizon is not one to be missed; it gets Guy’s Guru Grade of an A-.

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