(Can be sung to “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”)
The waves lapped the pipes, the sea’s unavailed gripes,
At the feet of Deepwater Horizon,
And no one on board thought this rig of reward
Would be one to have a surprise on.
The oil down below had had nowhere to go
Till a tube tapped the well of the ocean.
And well it had stayed under instruments made
To ensure there was no upward motion.
Till caution was dropped, and the great bubble popped
And laid waste to Deepwater Horizon,
Where before the rig’s throb, busy men on the job
Never thought they would meet their demise on.
Like ink swiftly bled, the well’s sable soul spread
On the waves of the ocean surrounding,
Although the crew tried as eleven men died
And the fire and spill were confounding.
When the morning sun’s light showed the gulf dark as night
Stretching out from Deepwater Horizon,
No worse oil spill from the maw of man’s drill
Had anyone ever laid eyes on.
MPAA rating: PG-13 (for intensity and frequent obscenities)
From The Day After Tomorrow to 2012 to Geostorm later this year, so many disaster movies focus on wildly improbable worldwide catastrophes that it’s easy to forget how visceral a real-life disaster can be. Deepwater Horizon may follow the trend of making a movie about any recent event of media significance (like Patriot’s Day, also from director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg), but it’s far from a cash-grab and uses that genuine intensity to remind audiences of just how bad the 2010 BP oil spill was at its start.
The first half has the workaday detail of a documentary, with much resemblance to the docudrama credibility of Captain Phillips. I can’t speak to how close the film is to the actual events, but the re-creation of the Deepwater Horizon rig is entirely convincing and never once had me doubting the truth of what was shown. There’s not an abundance of character development, but it’s easy to identify with the everyman likes of Wahlberg, Gina Rodriguez, and Kurt Russell as the supervisor fondly called “Mr. Jimmy.” True, the beginning threatens to get dull with all the technical jargon, but there’s the constant threat of what we know will happen. And that culmination doesn’t disappoint.
When the actual disaster starts, the explosions rarely let up, and it’s a thrilling and incendiary experience, of course from the comfort of one’s living room. It never was tainted by easily recognizable CGI, and it well deserved its Oscar nominations for Visual Effects and Sound Editing. Even if most of the casualties don’t have the emotional impact of similar films, the loss of life is stressed by the end, with a rare focus on each and every victim before the credits. After the intensity of the accident itself, I also welcomed the relieved prayer that followed the survivors’ escape; it was a believable religious aspect often lacking from other disaster flicks.
Deepwater Horizon offers a cinematic thrill while also making you dislike BP executives more than you thought you did, personified by the smarmy, corner-cutting manager played by John Malkovich, who’s good as usual but a bit overly snide. Like Wahlberg’s character, I wondered if he was on medication. Thanks to its potent realism before, during, and after the calamity, well-executed from start to finish, I’d say Deepwater Horizon is one of the best disaster films of recent years.
Rank: List Runner-Up
© 2017 S.G. Liput
496 Followers and Counting