Deepwater Horizon

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Director Peter Berg is having a good year. He produced Hell or High Water, one of the best movies of 2016. Now, the writer, producer, director of Lone Survivor brought that survivor, Mark Wahlberg to star in another true story. This is about the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill that became the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

And to think…it was only four years ago Berg was on another ship, giving us that crappy movie Battleship.

The original director of this film was J.C. Chandor, who when he gave us a movie on a boat (All is Lost with Robert Redford), we were bored to tears. After “creative differences” Berg came on board.

The first half of the movie does a good job introducing us to the characters. We see Mike Williams (Wahlberg) in the bedroom with his wife (Kate Hudson). They have a cute kid, and we get to see he’s a great family man.

Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriquez) is the cute but tough mechanical woman, who knows what to do when her ‘69 Mustang won’t start. She talks motorcycles with her boyfriend as they ride off to work.

Mr. Jimmy (Kurt Russell), a name that sounds like something from a Tarantino movie, is the tough, but fair, boss. His number one concern seems to be the safety of his crew, and pissing off the BP folks.

Unfortunately, we don’t get to learn a lot about the other characters. They spout off a lot of technical talk from the meters and drills they’re reading, and it will go over your head. I didn’t mind that. There was something about seeing these oil rigs, filmed in IMAX, and hearing mechanics talk about the drills, that was interesting. It’s a world I’ll never be involved in, and you felt like you were on an authentic ship. The problem is just that in the second half of the movie when everything starts blowing up [I don’t think a “spoiler alert” was needed there, was it?], we don’t know who is who, or we don’t care as much as we should about any of the ancillary characters. We certainly want Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich) to go down with the ship, because it was his bullying and pressure on a crew that was already 45 days behind schedule, that kept them from checking the concrete the way they usually do.

It’s crazy to think about how I’ve seen so many disaster flicks, but when they’re shot right, you’re still on the edge of your seat. Hearing the sounds of the pipes breaking, and the pressure of the mud and water gushing into the crew…throwing their bodies like rag dolls. Once the fire starts, and is even surrounding the rig they’re on, you wonder how anybody could possibly survive this.

Heck, you think Sully was a hero…watch what these guys do with glass all over their bodies and fire all around them.

The movie did have a few flaws, and I think it could’ve used a bit more dramatic heft. Overall, it’s a good popcorn flick.

I also loved that the closing credits started with the 11 people lost in this tragedy. It’s amazing it wasn’t more.

3 stars out of 5.