Deepwater Horizon (2016)

PETER BERG

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB. Hong Kong/USA, 2016.  Summit Entertainment, Participant Media, Di Bonaventura Pictures, Closest to the Hole Productions, Leverage Entertainment, TIK Film.  Screen Story by Matthew Sand, Screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Matthew Sand, based on the article by David Barstow, David Rohde, Stephanie Saul.  Cinematography by Enrique Chediak.  Produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Stephen Levinson, Mark Vahradian, Mark Wahlberg, David Womark.  Music by Steve Jablonsky.  Production Design by Chris Seagers.  Costume Design by Kasia Walicka-Maimone.  Film Editing by Gabriel Fleming, Colby Parker Jr..  Academy Awards 2016.  Toronto International Film Festival 2016.  

Mark Wahlberg stars in the true story of the disaster aboard the Deepwater Horizon, a giant semi-submersible drilling rig that suffered a mulfunction that led to its exploding and spilling tons of gallons of oil into the Gulf while taking the lives of ten crew members aboard.  Wahlberg plays the Chief Electronics Engineer who has come for a standard three week gig away from his family, and Gina Rodriguez plays the Dynamic Position Operator who accompanies him to oversee the new project of drilling for oil off the coast of Louisiana.  The jargon gets complicated for anyone not in the know about this stuff, there’s a lot of arguing about cement bond logs that go way over most people’s heads, but it’s easy to boil down the critical error to the simple fact that John Malkovich is playing the oil company manager and that’s enough to let you know that things won’t go well.  Malkovich orders drilling to go ahead without a proper cement test, which causes a major explosion that, before long, sees the entire rig on fire and its crew running for their lives.  The sound and visual effects team have a field day creating endless mayhem that both details the trauma that these characters endured as well as indulges your own voyeuristic desire to see the horrors up close in what is another in a long line of Grunts In Peril movies that put the American obsession with vigilante personality cults into a true story of circumstances gone awry.  It could be the wooden boredom of Patriots Day (made by Berg the same year and starring Wahlberg as well), but this one works because Berg trims all unnecessary fat, avoiding any manipulative backstories or unnecessary Michael Bay-style montages.  The film begins with breakfast and a plane ride to the rig, gets to the action and then ends with historical data, and the avoidance of editorializing keeps it smart and on track.

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