For the full Movie Bears Podcast review of ‘Deepwater Horizon,’ check out the video below. Or read on for our mini-review!
Combining procedural realism and explosive disaster survival action, ‘Deepwater Horizon’ tells the real-life tale of the oil rig explosion of 2010 that resulted in eleven deaths and the largest oil spill in U.S. history. These types of stories, especially of late, often lean towards excessive patriotism and jingoism as crutches to hold up flimsy plots, but surprisingly, ‘Deepwater Horizon’ (mostly) avoids these tropes and delivers a tense, gripping experience.
The first half of the film focuses on setting up the pieces. Each of the players in the incident, each technical aspect of the oil rig, each stodgy BP executive, and each debate about profit vs procedure is deliberately and carefully presented by director Peter Berg. The film avoids excessive displays of dramatic emotion, instead highlighting the step-by-step leading up to the explosion. This isn’t perfectly executed; some of the characters are too one-note to be interesting and not enough of the supporting cast is highlighted. Still, the effect is a net positive, as the inevitability of the explosion feels like slowly building pressure from which we are helpless to escape.
Where the film really begins to shine is in the second half, where it discards any semblance of being a slow-burning procedural film, puts the pedal to the metal, and evolves into an intense and kinetic disaster film. Leading man Mark Wahlberg is in his element here, driving the action with gritty determination and square-jawed heroism. Let’s not bury the lede here; ‘Deepwater Horizon’ is one of the strongest disaster films we’ve seen in recent memory.
We were surprised by how much we enjoyed ‘Deepwater Horizon.’ It isn’t a perfect film, with an abrupt tonal shift and underdeveloped secondary characters weighing it down. Still, what ‘Deepwater Horizon’ does well, it does extremely well. This isn’t a glowing recommendation from us, but it is a recommendation none-the-less.
Written by Will Lindus, Movie Bears Podcast