Deepwater Horizon

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Deepwater Horizon
"You cannot begin to understand what's going on, or not going on"

When is a disaster a complication? In the old days of The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure it was simple. You knew where you were and you knew where they were, the probable victims, and who was going to make it and who wouldn't and how the hell were they going to get out of there.

Deepwater Horizon is "based on" a true event that takes place on a massive oil rig, the architecture of which is unfamiliar, way off in the middle of some dark ocean. Steven Seagal may have been trapped in the galley of a US battleship in Under Siege but that's OK because a galley is a kitchen two floors below the bridge, or thereabouts, whereas this oil rig has a crew of 126 and appears to be a warren of intercepting rooms and bare steel corridors. You feel lost from the very start.

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In order to create a factual base to the drama its introductory section is taken up with Mike Williams' (Mark Wahlberg) cheesy home life with smiley wife (Kate Hudson) and precocious daughter. Once he goes to work the dialogue becomes technical. Has this been checked? Why did so-and-so leave without waiting for the concrete to set? Why's that dial on a panel of dials a bit off?

You cannot begin to understand what's going on, or not going on. The British firm BP is the bad guy, although you never hear an English accent. It's been cutting corners through lack of investment and poor maintenance for years. Vidrine (John Malkovich) is the top company rep on the rig. He denies everything, naturally, until the flames are about to engulf him.

The film is well made with seamless CGI and post explosion chaos that looks genuine enough although it seems incredible that only 11 people died.

Snap cuts to Mrs W every now and again for a little sentimental R&R do not help. Mike has to concentrate on staying alive. The action takes on a typical burning building vibe, except this is not a building. "Anything that big should have been made by God," someone says.

If so, why did He let it burn? To emphasise the moral ineptitude of homo sapiens? To expose corporate greed as lethal? To hint at man's courage under fire?

No! Disaster movies make money. It's that simple.

Reviewed on: 27 Sep 2016
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Deepwater Horizon packshot
A story set on the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, which exploded during April 2010 and created the worst oil spill in US history.
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