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Review: Deepwater Horizon

Deepwater Horizon
09.30.2016
9 10
This title was previously reviewed at TIFF 2016.

PLOT: The true story of the Deepwater Horizon, the mobile drilling unit that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, causing the BP Oil Spill.

REVIEW: While the BP Oil Spill may not seem a natural topic for a $100 million plus disaster movie designed to play to a broad audience, Peter Berg’s DEEPWATER HORIZON is certainly among the most exciting, visually arresting and high tension action-thrillers in recent memory. Well-scripted, dynamically shot and brilliantly acted, it’s exactly the kind of thought-provoking, yet commercial and crowd-pleasing fare Hollywood studios should make but rarely do.

Startlingly free of melodrama and tightly focused, in just over 100 minutes, DEEPWATER HORIZON manages to be both a profoundly moving survival tale but also a notably smart insight into how exactly the BP Oil Spill happened and the role corporate greed played in what’s been called the worst environmental disaster in U.S history.

Berg takes his time getting to the carnage of the Deepwater explosion. During a prelude introducing us to our every-man hero, Mark Wahlberg’s Mike Williams and his family (with Kate Hudson as his adoring wife), a clever scene where Williams helps his daughter with her science project explaining the principal behind the drilling is included - a smart easy way to bring us into this world. Once aboard the ship, we meet all the principal players, but rather than dive too much into back-stories and drama, Berg and screenwriters Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand launch us right into the conflict between BP and the drillers. John Malkovich’s Cajun oil boss is pitted against Kurt Russell’s blue-collar captain, with the two butting heads over safety shortcuts, with the company man willing to risk disaster in order to preserve company profits.

While certainly playing a venomous snake, Malkovich, despite the somewhat sinister faux accent, never goes overboard as the BP rep, while Russell also doesn’t go too far as the noble captain, avoiding making him too much of a martyr or the David to BP’s Goliath. In the second hour the carnage kicks into high gear, with every penny of the considerable budget going-in to conveying the absolute white-knuckle horror of the disaster. Especially as seen on a big IMAX screen, you really feel propelled into the middle of the madness, with mud and geysers of fire galore and a real sense of mortal danger that makes you question whether anyone’s going to get off the rig alive, even if you already know the story.

Playing the lead, Wahlberg once again does fine work for Berg. Wearing an easygoing smile and showing a sense of humor, his Williams is an intensely likable guy free from alpha-male displays of heroics. Rather, he’s just a guy who wants to get off the rig and go back to his family. Sending much of the second half covered in blood with his eyes swollen shut, Russell also has a part that ranks with his best leading roles of the eighties and nineties, continuing the great comeback with began with last year’s back-to-back BONE TOMAHAWK and THE HATEFUL EIGHT. Two of the younger cast members, ‘Jane the Virgin’’s Gina Rodriguez and THE MAZE RUNNER’s Dylan O’Brien also impress in their gritty parts, with O’Brien cutting an especially heroic figure, which bodes well for his upcoming AMERICAN ASSASSIN.

As far as true-life thrillers go, Peter Berg is rapidly proving himself to be a master of the genre. This makes for a strong companion piece with his earlier LONE SURVIVOR, and should itself be complimented nicely by his upcoming Boston Marathon drama, PATRIOTS DAY. Compelling and educational without being melodramatic or didactic, DEEPWATER HORIZON is rousing entertainment that needs to be seen and appreciated on the biggest screen you can find. It’s one of the fall season’s must-see films.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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7:03AM on 09/30/2016
What a movie. Honestly, one of the most intense films i've seen recently. And like someone posted below me. This movie clearly paints the bad guys as a corporation cutting corners to save money. If you think the roughnecks who bust their assess off have any say in the matter, then you are simply a fool. They are definitely the heroes here trying to get everyone off the boat.
What a movie. Honestly, one of the most intense films i've seen recently. And like someone posted below me. This movie clearly paints the bad guys as a corporation cutting corners to save money. If you think the roughnecks who bust their assess off have any say in the matter, then you are simply a fool. They are definitely the heroes here trying to get everyone off the boat.
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2:11AM on 09/30/2016

Looks great....

Can't wait!
Can't wait!
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12:50PM on 09/15/2016
I like a good disaster flick. I like Mark Wahlberg. But I am going to probably skip this one on principle. The principle is I can't have Hollywood spin this tragedy into some hero tale. BP spilled millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf. I don't want to have Hollywood rewrite history and make this into a hero tale.
I like a good disaster flick. I like Mark Wahlberg. But I am going to probably skip this one on principle. The principle is I can't have Hollywood spin this tragedy into some hero tale. BP spilled millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf. I don't want to have Hollywood rewrite history and make this into a hero tale.
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2:11AM on 09/30/2016
Evidently reading isn't one of your skills. The people responsible were the ones treated as the "bad guys" wanting to take safety short cuts. The workers are treated as heroes because that's exactly what they were.
Evidently reading isn't one of your skills. The people responsible were the ones treated as the "bad guys" wanting to take safety short cuts. The workers are treated as heroes because that's exactly what they were.
9:20AM on 09/30/2016
I think what Iron_Chinchilla means is that this movie is kinda One-Sided/Dimensional as in yes, you will root for good guys to make it but after the rousing music and the broad slo-mo smiles you will not think of the aftermath where other peoples' livelihoods were ruined. Not sure how many were compensated, i'll leave that one to you.
I think what Iron_Chinchilla means is that this movie is kinda One-Sided/Dimensional as in yes, you will root for good guys to make it but after the rousing music and the broad slo-mo smiles you will not think of the aftermath where other peoples' livelihoods were ruined. Not sure how many were compensated, i'll leave that one to you.
7:53PM on 09/14/2016

Awesome

So far all the movies I been dying to see that are coming out of TIFF are killin it and getting really amazing reviews from all around. FInally. Could it be that maybe hollywood will finally stop suckin dick.
So far all the movies I been dying to see that are coming out of TIFF are killin it and getting really amazing reviews from all around. FInally. Could it be that maybe hollywood will finally stop suckin dick.
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5:37PM on 09/14/2016

Generous reviews?

Either this is the best fall movie lineup ever or you guys are being generous with your reviews. 9,9,9,8,9 with a 6 sprinkled in to throw off the scent? But alas, who has time for all these great movies?! I come to this site daily but only got to see one movie this summer!
Either this is the best fall movie lineup ever or you guys are being generous with your reviews. 9,9,9,8,9 with a 6 sprinkled in to throw off the scent? But alas, who has time for all these great movies?! I come to this site daily but only got to see one movie this summer!
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10:11PM on 09/14/2016
Just remember. This clown rated Ghostbusters 8/10.
Just remember. This clown rated Ghostbusters 8/10.
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3:58PM on 09/14/2016
Interesting. I was going to wait for Netflix on this one but this convinced me go see it in a theater.
I only look at the numbers, I like to go in as fresh as possible and I'm glad you guys still do that.
I hate wushu washy reviews where you have to read someone's version of witty review technique and no clear answer as to should I see it, ...and all the while telling me wayyyy too much.
Interesting. I was going to wait for Netflix on this one but this convinced me go see it in a theater.
I only look at the numbers, I like to go in as fresh as possible and I'm glad you guys still do that.
I hate wushu washy reviews where you have to read someone's version of witty review technique and no clear answer as to should I see it, ...and all the while telling me wayyyy too much.
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3:14PM on 09/14/2016

The trailer looked great!

Glad to hear the film is going to be as good. Really looking forward to this one.
Glad to hear the film is going to be as good. Really looking forward to this one.
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2:56PM on 09/14/2016
Here's hoping it's better than Lone Survivor. That was not a good flick
Here's hoping it's better than Lone Survivor. That was not a good flick
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2:36PM on 09/14/2016
Sounds like Berg, and Wahlberg have a nice, successful partnership going after Lone Survivor, and now this. Looking forward to it.
Sounds like Berg, and Wahlberg have a nice, successful partnership going after Lone Survivor, and now this. Looking forward to it.
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5:35PM on 09/14/2016
dont forget they have "Patroits Day" coming up together as well, i think they're going for a trilogy of real incident thrillers.
dont forget they have "Patroits Day" coming up together as well, i think they're going for a trilogy of real incident thrillers.
2:30PM on 09/14/2016

wow, Peter Berg is proving he is a hell of a director !

the academy awards should consider him as a serious contender ! Maybe not this one, but most probably Patriot Days should give him the recognition he deserves !
Whalburgers 4 ever !
the academy awards should consider him as a serious contender ! Maybe not this one, but most probably Patriot Days should give him the recognition he deserves !
Whalburgers 4 ever !
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