Director: Peter Berg (Lone Survivor) Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez, John Malkovich, Kate Hudson Verdict: When in doubt, thou shalt not drill
THIS here’s what one might call a docu-disaster movie – where a real-life catastrophe will be re-staged for both your education and entertainment.
If you wish to be educated, well, Deepwater Horizon will give you the retrospective scoop on one of the biggest preventable man-made catastrophes of all time.
If you wish to be entertained, well, Deepwater Horizon has plenty of Mark Wahlberg emoting manfully as a monster oil rig goes up in flames around him.
Luckily, the right balance is struck between lasting information and disposable thrills.
The infamous incident depicted here took place on April 20, 2010, in calm waters about 60km off the coast of Louisiana.
As evening descended, the go-ahead was given for a semisubmersible oil rig run by fuel giant British Petroleum (BP) to start fullscale drilling of a promising new site on the ocean floor.
In a matter of hours, 11 of the 126 men employed on the rig were dead. Scores more were seriously injured. More than five million barrels of oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico.
The end result was one of the greatest environmental disasters in history.
The rig combusted and collapsed due to the usual safety protocols for new drilling sites being roundly ignored.
The Louisiana project was already way behind schedule, and BP wanted all that oily money flowing back into its coffers ASAP.
So BP’s reps rode its rig contractors hard, and a go button was pushed in spite of the concerns of those who knew what the consequences could be.
Due to the highly technical perfect storm of snafus that had to happen for the disaster to be triggered, Deepwater Horizon has to fill its screenplay with a heck of a lot of oilman mumbo-jumbo.
A lot of it is gushing out from underneath the thick moustache and New Orleans accent of Kurt Russell as the good old safety officer who can feel the bad times coming his way.
This is where a secondary plot melodramatically exploring tensions between working-class heroes like the rig’s chief electrics man (Wahlberg) and villains such as BP’s chief slick-talker (John Malkovich) become so important in Deepwater Horizon.
Instead of panicking about working out what is happening, viewers are free to panic about whether or not their favourite characters will survive the gargantuan inferno.