The Runner was about a congressman who tried to provide financial support for local fisheries after the disastrous BP oil spill in April 2010. Deepwater Horizon displays in a consistent manner the pure facts on the day of the fatal accident with this oil platform. It could have been just another disaster movie, like I’ve seen a lot before. Full of heroism, spectacular scenes and emotionally charged images of families at home, waiting for some good news. Ultimately, it wasn’t that kind of a movie. They managed to make a film without any Hollywoodian, exaggerated situations. In short, no tricks to make it more spectacular in terms of action and emotions. It’s an accurate reporting of the facts that took place before and during the disaster. Sometimes I feel like watching an action-soaked disaster film where people end up in a very explosive situation, both literally and figuratively. On the other hand, I would have enjoyed a piece about the aftermath of this disaster as well.
As in any disaster movie we get to see two different groups of people with opposing opinions. First we have those who predict the danger and who tried to point out to the others what consequences will result from making rash decisions. And then there’s the other party rejecting any danger and trying to nip any protest in the bud, which ensures that the whole situation derails. In the group of individuals who are using common sense and where safety is top-priority, we find Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) and Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg). Harrell is a hardened foreman on the rig, who insists on checking the cement layer that’ll protect the rig against a blow out. You don’t have to be a genius to know this test isn’t carried out properly and what consequences it’ll bring. Mike Williams is the technician who’s responsible to make sure everything that needs to function will function perfectly (including the toilets). It’s no surprise he transforms into the person who keeps his nerve when the trouble begins and acts in an effective way to prevent worse.
The sad thing about films like Deepwater Horizon, is that the outcome is already known in advance. It’s quite annoying when your wife peeks around the corner once again and calmly asks the same question over and over again : “And? Is it already happening?“. But isn’t that the moment you’re waiting for in the first place? The moment the mayhem starts? The prelude only has an educational purpose (with a can of Coke explaining how drilling oil from an platform works) and merely serves to gradually build up the tension. When hell breaks loose, you’ll witness a chain of explosions with such destructive force that walls, iron structures and workmen literally fly away in all directions. There’s nothing so annoying as when you’re enjoying a refreshing shower and the wall blows up right in your face with broken glass and twisted iron leaving a trail of destruction and death. That’s what some of the crew members experienced the first minute.
Mark Wahlberg plays a terrific part as the indifferent technician Mike, who isn’t is impressed by the rather authoritarian tone used by the big shots from BP. I’m not Wahlberg’s biggest fan, but now I felt like this was a suitable role for him. Ditto regarding Kurt Russell who stands his ground against these BP representatives. John Malkovich (who I always will remember as the provoking Russian pokerplayer Teddy KGB in Rounders) plays the arrogant, pedantic BP man who at first acts extremely haughty and self-confident. But when the shit hits the fan, he runs off like a scaredy-cat, realizing he escaped a certain death. He looked like one of these male passengers who sneaked in the rescue boats with the women and children when the Titanic hit that giant ice cube. Pathetic.
Don’t expect much profundity in this movie. No blame directed towards the managers of BP whose only concern is to make a profit. That’s more important to them than the safety of the staff. No epilogue in which these bozos are held responsible for one of the largest environmental disasters ever. And no real character development when talking about the main characters. The only goal they had in mind, was to escape from the flames and survive. But the special effects, action sequences and nail-biting race against the clock will blow you away. Exactly what the crew experienced.
For more of Peter Pluymers’ movie reviews, check out My Opinion as a Movie-Freak
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television