Deepwater Horizon

Deepwater Horizon is a 2016 American biopic disaster film. It was directed by Peter Berg, written by Matthew Sand and Matthew Michael Carnahan, and starring an ensemble cast including Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Gina Rodriguez, Dylan O’Brien and Kate Hudson. It is based on the 2010 Deepwater Horizon  explosion  and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

On April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon, an oil drilling rig operated by private contractor Transocean, is set to begin drilling off the southern coast of Louisiana on behalf of BP. We see shots of the family life of some of the main characters as they leave their homes for a 3 week work schedule. Chief Electronics Technician Michael “Mike” Williams and rig supervisor James “Mr. Jimmy” Harrell are surprised to learn that the workers assigned to pump the cement intended to keep the well stable are being sent home early, without conducting a pressure test, at the insistence of BP managers Donald Vidrine and Robert Kaluza. Harrell meets with Vidrine and persuades him to conduct a test, which only serves to weaken the already poorly placed cement further. His patience thinning, and without waiting for Harrell to confirm the results, Vidrine orders the well to be flowed.

All is well for a little while but the cement job fails completely triggering a massive blowout that overpowers and kills Keith Manuel, Shane Roshto, Roy Kemp, Karl Kleppigner, Adam Weise and Gordon Jones. Several systems start to fail and as they crew is unable to seal the well, the leaked oil causes a fire killing Dewey Revette, Stephen Curtis, Jason Anderson and Donald Clark. The rig’s navigation officer, Andrea, tries to alert the Coast Guard, only to be overruled by her superior, Captain Curt Kuchta, on the grounds that the rig is not in any imminent danger. With oil now spewing into the ocean, a frightened, oil covered pelican flies into the bridge of a nearby vessel, which heads towards the rig just as the workers begin a frantic evacuation. Harrell, who is seriously injured in the explosion, is rescued by Mike and assumes control of the situation, only to discover that the rig could not be saved. Dale Burkeen, a close friend of Mike’s, sacrifices himself to keep a burning crane from collapsing onto the surviving crew, while Mike and Caleb are able to rescue Vidrine and Kaluza and get them to safety.

The Coast Guard sees the fire and sends a ship to rescue survivors With all the lifeboats full, Mike locates the emergency life raft, but it becomes separated from the rig before he and Andrea can board, causing the latter to suffer a panic attack. Just as the oil in the well itself ignites and destroys the rig, the two jump into the water and are picked up by rescuers, who then ferry them to the Damon Bankston. Mike in particular has a panic attack when accosted with the parent of a dead crew member and he collapses in a sobbing heap in his hotel room. However he is reunited with his wife & young daughter and testifies in court.  It is revealed that not a single employee of either Transocean or BP was prosecuted for their actions. Pictures appear of the 11 men who lost their lives before the credits.

The movie received generally positive reviews but grossed only over $121 million worldwide on a budget of $156 million. The film was nominated for two Oscars at the 89th Academy Awards: Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects, and a BAFTA Award for Best Sound at the 70th British Academy Film Awards. However it doesn’t really work as a movie as most viewers will fail to connect with the characters, even though the real life event causes much anger in the public and especially environmental groups and even other oil rig workers. I give it a 7 outta 10!

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