Review: In aftermath of positively received Lone Survivor, director Peter Berg gears up into another based-on-true-events mayhem-fest via Deepwater Horizon – dubbed after an oil rig off the Lousiana coast. At least, it used to be there, in that Gulf of Mexico, before one of the most terrible man-made disasters that inspire this film happened.
It’s a dramatic reenactment of the 2010’s tragedy right from the beginning of this ill-fated tenure. At least (again), it is a beginning for Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), who boards for a three-week work at the Deepwater Horizon. Once there, Mike and his manager Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) are concerning with safety issue on the rig as a result of cutting corners attempt as explained by Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich).
What Jimmy and Mike are afraid of finally happens when the rig finally blows and burst on fire. Catastrophe embarks shortly after, and nothing they can do but leaving Deepwater Horizon and letting go of what they’re after.
One important note: Berg teams up with one his lone survivor, Mark Wahlberg, into making this Lone Survivor of the open sea. Deepwater Horizon is indeed a different story with different people and different setting; but, Berg is confident enough in using the approach he used in his previous film. While it’s not a negative move and, apparently, it works; it also slips in the predecessor’s fashion.
While Lone Survivor devices some times to develop a dilemma drama inside a war before finally putting the characters into dire dangers; Deepwater Horizon takes all the time it has to give important background to Wahlberg’s character – to create an image of a family man and a loyal friend. When it gets to the ocean, it takes it time to set up feud and tension, when Wahlberg’s and bold Kurt Russell keep checking if there’s something wrong.
Undeniably, Berg makes a very compelling disaster film with candid horror and shocking treatments, which might traumatize the audiences for some times. Throwing the audiences right in the center of the chaos – where fire and explosions are everywhere. Enrique Chediak’s excessive camera work gives an impression that nobody has ideas to survive; it was all chaotic and disoriented as if dangers are around every corner. Deepwater Horizon is a straight survival among disaster film that doesn’t give a damn.
Similar as Lone Survivor, this disaster film excels in manifesting the subject matter with excellent on-screen presence. Kudos goes to visual effect and production designer; but, it goes mostly to sound department. Their sound effect stocks and how to put them into matching the visual effect in the final film is superb. All the ‘clinketty-clang, clang, clink, clanketty clank’ and boom sound menacing and irritating; while the visuals of the explosion, the combusting fire or the debris look very vivid.
However, Deepwater Horizon takes the dramatization of the events quite exuberantly, in a similar way to Lone Survivor. In some important parts, dramatization – especially with Wahlberg – looks so awfully disturbing. Berg once again makes his characters too durable, too all-saints, too die-hard they don’t fear death. This kind of heroic dramatization really extends ‘based-on-true-event’ label; although, it gives a deeper emotional rush on the run.
In the end, Deepwater Horizon could still emanate Peter Berg’s penchant of dramatic based-on-true-event action survival story in a positive light – similar to Lone Survivor. Yet, it goes to similar to Lone Survivor in many aspects – whether some positive ones or not.
Deepwater Horizon (2016)
Action, Drama, Thriller Directed by: Peter Berg Written by: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Matthew Sand Starred by: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Dylan O’Brien, Kate Hudson Runtime: 107 mins Rated PG-13