Directed by Peter Berg, Deepwater Horizon details April 20, 2010: the night during which the eponymous oil rig exploded and led to the worst oil spill in U.S. History. The film focuses on the people who are on the rig at the time and their quest to survive this disaster.
When I first heard that this film was being made, I was really unsure about how it was going to be and how they were going to approach it. I deliberately stayed away from most of the trailers and the film’s synopsis so that I would be able to go into it as blind as I could. I have to say, this was a really smart idea. This film is fantastic in the way subject approach, story, and overall delivery.
In very much the same vein as Apocalypse Now, I feel that this is an undercover horror film. While it is not a typical film in the horror genre, the events that are shown are terrifying and scarier than almost any supernatural element that could be depicted in a horror film.
However, this film thrives because of the direction that Peter Berg took the film. It was really smart the way that he focused on the relationships that the people who were caught in this disaster had on and off the rig. It humanized the characters in a much needed way and, by the time the disaster happens, you are terrified for the characters and you don’t know if they are going to get out of the situation alive. The camerawork that Berg decided to use also brought a greater sense of tension to the film as a whole.
Berg decided to use an effective hand-held style which created a sense of panic that is ever present throughout this film. I typically dislike shaky hand-held stuff and I think very few directors do it well, but Berg pulls this style off nicely in this film, and it created that feeling of uneasiness that this story needed.
The performances in this film are fantastic as well, especially Mark Wahlberg’s. It is extremely difficult to describe how good Mark Wahlberg is in this. He is able to convey levity in the first half of the film, but in the second half of the film he is able to depict someone who is trying his hardest to not freak out and stay calm in order to help everyone else. He pulls off the emotional moments so well, which honestly isn’t that surprising because he has been nominated for an Oscar. Kurt Russell plays the gruff leader of the rig and he pulls this character off extremely well and he also handles the emotional moments in a great fashion. John Malkovich plays a slimy business man and he is so good in this role because he created a character that you love to despise.
Additionally, the CGI during the second half of the film was extraordinary. It looked so convincing that it looked like there was a camera following these characters around during the actual events.
The only problem that I had with this film occurred during the first half. It was very, very slow in the first half when it was trying to build up the relationship between all of these characters. While most of it was necessary, there were some parts that could’ve been cut in order to make the film flow faster.
Overall, this is a fantastic film with great direction, camerawork, performances, and effects that is just a little, though not notably, slow in the first half of the film.