Review: ‘Deepwater Horizon’ pays tribute to lost lives
“Deepwater Horizon” is a rugged, sturdy and solemn tribute to the lives lost during the 2010 oil rig explosion about 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana.
Coverage of the incident focused on the millions of barrels of oil that flowed into the Gulf of Mexico for close to three months, but director Peter Berg humanizes the tragedy by concentrating on the workers on board the oil rig that April day.
We first meet Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) at home with his wife (Kate Hudson) as he prepares to leave for 21 days on board the rig. His daughter is demonstrating his job using a shaken up Coke can and a straw, and when it erupts into a gusher onto their kitchen table, we know all too well it’s foreshadowing what’s to come.
On board the Horizon, we meet safety chief Jimmy “Mr. Jimmy” Harrell (Kurt Russell), along with various other workers and BP execs. As BP’s Donald Vidrine, John Malkovich is a Creole villain who exudes Southern-fried smarm.
Berg, as he did in 2013’s “Lone Survivor” (also with Wahlberg), focuses on the quiet heroism of the workers, who are just there doing their job, off in the middle of the ocean. The explosion is handled with big Hollywood fireworks, but Berg grounds everything in a gritty, unflashy reality and concentrates on the characters, not the pyrotechnics.
Oil rigs are very complex and confusing structures, but Berg does a fine job boiling down the story to its essence. Things went wrong, lives were lost. “Deepwater Horizon” makes its intentions clear and does its job, just like the workers aboard that rig.
Rated PG-13: for prolonged intense disaster sequences and related disturbing images, and brief strong language
Running time: 107 minutes