Deepwater Horizon

Mark Wahlberg in Deepwater Horizon, (Black Sheep Productions)
Mark Wahlberg in Deepwater Horizon, (Black Sheep Productions)

What it’s about:

The true story of the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, which exploded during April 2010 leading to the death of 11 crew members and the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

What we thought:

This week brings another, and even more thrilling, true-life drama. You might, or might not, remember the tremendous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Millions of gallons of oil erupted from the surface of the ocean, continuing for 87 consecutive days, after the oilrig Deepwater Horizon exploded. It was recorded as the worst oil spill in U.S. history and BP was forced to pay over $70 billion in fines and clean-up efforts.

A subject matter that appeared to have been smothered over the months followed by the events and although some of us heard about the enormous environmental impact it had, not many of us know the detail about the catastrophic explosion, which killed 11 of the crewmembers on board. Director Peter Berg again teams up with Mark Wahlberg from his previous film, Lone Survivor, but in my opinion does a much better job this time.

Wahlberg plays the role of Mike Williams who was the chief electronic technician at Transocean on the rig. Very early in the film already Williams along with Transocean offshore installation manager, Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) identify the safety measures BP had cut in attempt to hit production targets and the big profits they are trying to milk. The subtext of the film lays a lot of claim on corporate greediness and the actual cause leading up to the disaster, like most major problems in the world, money. One of the operators even sings the familiar phrase “money, money, money” when questioned about BP’s negligence.

BP’s disregard to safety precautions result in a high-pressure gas explosion that engulfed the rig platform. 94 of the 105 crew members on board were saved and 11 of them died or were never found. Wahlberg and Russel both did a great job in playing very convincing roles. At first it was difficult for me to imagine Wahlberg as an oilrig mechanic, but he convincingly plays an intelligent family-orientated worker and the ultimate hero of the film.

Screenwriters Matthew Michale Carmahan and Matthew Sands were not subtle about shining the light of the disaster on BP and their role in corporate greed. This is by no means a boring biopic and audiences will be at the edge of their seats from the first minute till the credits start rolling. Berg did an excellent job when it came to the technical aspects of the film, such as the special effects, pyro techniques and sound design. Another fun fact about the film is that the Deepwater Horizon replica is considered the largest set ever build and for a moment almost takes you back to Titanic. 

Where the film does stagger a bit is in its emotional depth. Although we get a small insight into William’s home life and his family, the film lacks at giving more insight and attention to the 11 crew members who did not make it out alive. The only tribute we get to them is at the very end during the credits and they quickly get lost in the action packed sequences that happens during the majority of the film.

This heart-thumping thriller becomes even more horrifying when walking out of the cinema remembering that it’s all based on true events. This is however not just emotional groundwork and entertainment, but a very important piece of cinema. Important not to hide or shy away from humanities’ mistakes, and hopefully prevent similar happenings in the future and provoke change in the bigger greed-filled corporate world.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24