Film Review: Deep Water Horizons

deep-water-horizons_rBased on the article ‘Deepwater Horizon’s Final Hours’ by David Rohde in the New York Times, Director Peter Berg infuses exactly the right elements to make Deepwater Horizon a formulaic disaster film. The film opens with merely the audio of the testimony which followed the largescale catastrophe on 20 April 2010, 41 miles off Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. Berg devotes less than a half hour building the narrative and introducing the characters.

Before proceeding on the oil-rig Deepwater Horizon for three weeks, Chief Electronics Technician Mike Williams (Mark Wahlverg) spends some tender moments with wife Felicia (Kate Hudson) and their nine-year-old daughter.

There’s presentiment of danger as the daughter’s indigenous experiment goes askew, and Andrea Fleytas’s (Gina Rodriguez) car wouldn’t start, on the way to be ferried to the oil-rig.

Also forming part of the crew is safety supervisor Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell). ‘Mr. Jimmy’, as he’s addressed by everybody, and Mike are uneasy about the safety aspects on the world’s largest (at the time) offshore oil-drilling platform. But, being 43 days behind schedule, British Petroleum’s (which has leased the oil-rig) representative and engineer Vidrine (John Malkovich) smoothly urges them to get going.

With the expanding methane gas coming into contact with the rig’s exhaust system, it was a disaster waiting to happen. Director Berg does well to conceive the lethal combination of fumes, fuel and flames which turned the Deepwater Horizon into a massive fireball. (It was truly a miracle that only 11 of the 126 crew members had perished in the ensuing catastrophe.)

Victor Zolfo’s set-design deserves praise as does the performances of Russell, Wahlberg and Malkopvich in this recreation of the worst ecological disaster in US history. But, in contrast, too much technical jargon (kill lines, etc) pervades the dialogues. Also, the film relies too heavily on blaring sound effects and a continuous barrage of explosions. 0n the whole, it’s a welcome tribute to the heroics of the crew who valiantly defied the odds in this man-made disaster which spilled over 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

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