Friday, March 24, 2017

Film Review: Deepwater Horizon (2016)

Deepwater Horizon (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: FandangoNow
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a great example of an effective disaster movie."

Based on the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, where an offshore drilling rig exploded and subsequently caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history...

Deepwater Horizon is a simple but effective disaster movie. The film primarily follows Michael Williams (Mark Wahlberg), the chief electronics technician, James Harrell (Kurt Russell), and Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez), the navigation officer—among a few other key characters. What's supposed to be a normal day turns into chaos when BP managers force the rig to drill when there's clearly something wrong. Their reasoning? Money. So, due to their negligence, a blowout occurs, which eventually leads to plenty of explosions. The plot is engaging, exciting, dramatic, and fast-paced. I found myself wishing they'd show more of Michael's family, though—aside from about three one-minute scenes, they are hardly used during the disaster. Still, the climax is strong and the ending is powerful.

Deepwater Horizon is a great example of an effective disaster movie. As a matter of fact, I'd say this is one of the best. It's up there with films like The Wave. Deepwater Horizon works because it feels human. Yes, there are a few plot contrivances. Yes, there are more explosions than a Michael Bay film. Still, the film manages to feel human thanks to its buildup, its characters, and its performances. Thanks to this grounded-in-reality vibe, the film is extremely effective. It's tense, it's unnerving, and it's fascinating. There are a lot of those 'oh, how convenient' moments, but not enough to really spoil the film—the whole dinosaur tooth thing, for example. Obviously the film isn't 100-percent accurate so it took some liberties. It's worth noting, though.

This is one of Mark Wahlberg's best performances. Wahlberg is effortlessly charismatic, so he feels human. I don't think he can nail some of the more emotional scenes, which is why his crying is masked by emotional music, but it works. Kurt Russell is also fantastic in his supporting role. Gina Rodriguez was good, but she didn't really get the chance to shine except for a few scenes. The film looked fantastic. The special effects were especially impressive. The music is about what you'd expect from a disaster movie—something to keep you at the edge of your seat while pulling at your heartstrings. The film was written by Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand, and directed by Peter Berg. Aside from its obvious plot devices, the writing is clean and effective. Berg knows how to craft epic films without bloating the runtime; he's excellent at crafting suspense, too.

Overall, Deepwater Horizon was a great film. I'm always skeptical of disaster movies. Some often try to pass as amazing because they're based on tragedies. This film handled it properly. Its focus on character creates a very effective experience. The performances were also great. Highly recommended for fans of the genre.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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