The film Deepwater Horizon is best categorized as a Thriller that coincidentally is about a disaster – not a Disaster Film.
The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure, Airport – these films are the standard bearers of Hollywood Disaster Films. Thank goodness Deepwater Horizon is not a Disaster Film or we would be forced to see Helen Hayes sweetly encourage people to jump into the firery water.
Deepwater Horizon is a Thriller and a highly watchable one at-that. Directed by Peter Berg (Lone Survivor) and based on the New York Times reporting of the worst ecological event in our history, Deepwater Horizon stars Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter, Pain & Gain, Lone Survivor), Kurt Russell (Bone Tomahawk, Silkwood, Escape From New York), John Malkovich (Of Mice and Men, In The Line of Fire, Rounders), Kate Hudson (Almost Famous) and Gina Rodriquez in her first principle role in a film.
Deepwater Horizon can be broken down into two acts. The first act sets up the situation and the second deals with the immediate implication of the disaster itself. The initial scenes of the main characters getting ready for their tour of duty are the weakest point in the film. The dialog and settings are monochromatic and perfunctory. One in particular, I found – quite frankly – to be gratuitous and not worthy of the rest of the film.
The best parts of the film are presented in detail and with relative accuracy during the build up to the disaster event. The film does a superb job of taking the time to show in understandable terms, the huge and multi-varied challenges and pressure associated with a major exploration project. These projects are big money and big risk. It could be argued that Deepwater Horizon is a bit long with the background and technical details of the project. However, this technical background and the revealing of humans operating under monetary, political, and the contractual pressure makes the actual disaster and its causes better understood.
The disaster on the Oil Rig is pretty devastating. The challenges presented to the staff on the Oil Rig are formidable and presented with a manner that feels fairly believability. The film closes rather quickly and does not fall victim to forcing too much preachiness down the viewers throat. The real life heroes and villains and their updated story are presented in the credits.