Heroes on the horizon
DAVID EDWARDS finds the blend of humanity and ultra-realism in Deepwater Horizon a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives the the disaster
WHILE there’s been no shortage of recent disaster movies, this fire-at-sea thriller trumps them all with its blend of humanity and ultra-realism.
This is no 2012, San Andreas or World War Z but a raw, visceral and immediate experience grounded in fact far more powerful than fiction.
After 2013’s Lone Survivor, director Peter Berg and leading man Mark Wahlberg have delivered what promises to be the most thrilling movie of the autumn.
And if its stance on heroes vs money-grubbing execs looks simplistic, a quick check of the facts reveals the account to be largely true.
Based on the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig inferno that saw 11 people die and almost five million barrels of oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico, the film begins with engineer Mike Williams (Wahlberg) saying goodbye to his wife (Kate Hudson) and daughter before a three-week stint on the platform.
Life on the seas is entering choppy waters with the captain (Kurt Russell) banging heads with its BP owners (including a wonderfully slimy John Malkovich) who are insisting on pressing ahead with behind-schedule drilling, despite safety fears.
And when work begins, all hell breaks loose, leaving the survivors to fight for their lives and rescue others as the platform burns around them.
In the hands of, say, Michael Bay, you’d expect an emphasis on spectacle laced with corny dialogue but Berg has turned current disaster movie tropes on their head, never losing sight of the survivors’ heroism.
With Mike Williams acting as our eyes and ears, we even get a lesson in the world of gaskets, pumps and underwater pipes before things go awfully wrong about an hour in.
You also have to admire the bravery of the makers for taking on the oil giant and laying the blame so squarely at their door.
It’s a terrific spectacle but, more than that, a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives.
Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Douglas M Griffin, James Dumont, Joe Chrest