Deepwater Horizon assembles a compelling cast to tell the story of the real-life heroes from the 2010 BP Oil Spill caused by the explosion of the title offshore drilling rig.
I came into the film for the same reason that many of you probably will – to see two of our generation’s strongest and most buzz-worthy actors, Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf, The Maze Runner) and Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin), in their latest big-screen appearance. While these two certainly did not disappoint, I left blown away by both the cast as a whole and the powerful storytelling and visuals.
The movie is based on “Deepwater Horizon’s Final Hours,” an in-depth article from the New York Times about the incident, and stars Mark Wahlberg as Mike Williams – chief electronics technician on-board the Deepwater Horizon and a very real person who was there on that fateful day. Many of the other cast members, including O’Brien, Rodriguez, Kurt Russell, and John Malkovich, also portray actual people who were on the scene.
Mike is a stand-up guy and family man, focused on safety and doing his job right so he can get back to his wife (Kate Hudson) and daughter. When he and his boss, Mr. Jimmy (Russell), arrive for a three-week stint on the rig, they learn that a safety procedure has recently been skipped due to the intervention of Vidrine and Kaluza (Malkovich and Brad Leland), two executives from the BP oil company. Oh, and they also sent home the staff normally in charge of performing said procedure. The Deepwater Horizon is already behind schedule, so Vidrine and Kaluza are eager to push full-steam ahead. Though Mr. Jimmy conducts a few alternate checks on the systems, Vidrine convinces him to ignore some vital warning signs – leading to the disastrous accident that took down the rig in real life.
The series of events leading up to the disaster is a mastery of suspense. The audience knows what’s coming – just not exactly how or when. Deepwater Horizon manages to slowly increase the tension while making the complex machinery responsible understandable and building audience respect for and investment in the crew.
As one bad decision leads to another, catastrophe finally strikes. The resulting action and set pieces make Deepwater Horizon truly shine as an action movie. Think Titanic, if the Titanic had been on fire. The visuals of the burning metal, shattered glass, and hell-like rig are incredibly powerful – but the actions of the characters, particularly Mike Williams, are just as much so as they fight for survival.
The film is undeniably engaging and an eye-opening window into a very real tragedy. The end credits pay tribute to the 11 people who lost their lives on the rig, grounding the situation and its consequences. Though the movie doesn’t quite bring home a larger message or purpose, it still feels important – and will definitely leave you thinking.
Deepwater Horizon hits theaters on September 30.
Images Courtesy of Lionsgate