When an explosion on April 10, 2010, ignited the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, the blowout lasted 87 days, leaking 4.9 million gallons into the Gulf, resulting in the worst ecological disaster in American history. Told through the perspective of Chief Electronics Technician Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), it begins normally, as he bids goodbye to his wife (Kate Hudson) and young daughter, hoping to snag a ‘dinosaur bone’ for her to show to her class in school. Read on…
Preparing to be transported to the enormous rig, just off the Louisiana coast, he greets co-worker Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez) and reports for duty to Captain “Mr. Jimmy” Harrell (Kurt Russell), who, ironically, is presented with a workplace Safety Award, just before the “well from hell” bursts.
Conversing in terse, completely indecipherable, technical jargon, it becomes obvious that certain “negative pressure tests,” along with other complicated maintenance procedures, were not properly performed because of monetary pressure.
According to the crew, the rig is held together “with Band-Aids and bubble gum.”
Since the drilling rig is owned by Transocean and leased to British Petroleum (BP), company exec Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich) is concerned that the project is already behind schedule to start pumping oil.
“We’re confident about the integrity of the cement,” Vidrine says, but it’s obvious that pressure is building deep below and a monumental catastrophe is lurking.
Taking cues from Irwin Allen disaster movies like “The Poseidon Adventure” (1972) and “The Towering Inferno” (1974), screenwriters Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand, along with director Peter Berg, take time to introduce the motivations of their primary characters.
After the accident occurs, chaos ensues. Enrique Chediak’s handheld cinematography blends convincingly with Craig Hammack’s visual effects, while Wylie Statemen’s deafening noise obliterates everything. There are numerous explosions, fireballs, gushing oil, oozing mud and collapsing metal towers.
Eventually, it becomes obvious that Williams’ rugged heroics saves several lives, yet 11 men died and what happened to the rest is anyone’s guess.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Deepwater Horizon” is a suspenseful 7 with edge-of-your-seat tension.