Review: “Deepwater Horizon”

More stories from Logan Peterson, Editor-in-Chief

Review: “Logan”
March 6, 2017

The disaster movie is given a breathe of not-so-fresh air in “Deepwater Horizon,” a film about the horrifying BP oil rig disaster, in which millions of gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.

The cast is made up of seasoned veterans Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, and John Malkovich as some of the real people involved in the disaster. Wahlberg plays Mike Williams, a veteran oil driller, who has left behind his wife, played by Kate Hudson, and his young daughter.

Wahlberg, not known as a very compelling actor, does some impressive work here. He gives a performance that is equal parts funny, heroic, and powerful. It’s probably his best performance since his brilliant first-time performance in “Boogie Nights.”

Russell also gives a compelling performance as James Harrell, nicknamed ‘Mr. Jimmy’ by his subordinates. Harrell is the supervisor of the rig who is displeased with the lack of preparation for the next drill. This leads to the less-than-good performance from Malkovich as BP executive, Don Vidrine.

The film’s director, Peter Berg, tries to paint all the BP executives as villains (which they are), but it comes off as amateurish. Malkovich’s Vidrine, in particular, has a hammy Louisiana accent and a slimy, callous demeanor.

The film as a whole is well done. While the screenplay is a bit to be desired, with it’s lack of any real emotional arcs, the tension is always palpable. We feel attached to the characters, and can sense that there was real human tragedy outside of this simply being ‘the worst oil disaster in US history.’

The greatest elements, however, come from the visual effects and sound design. As soon as the explosions occur (spoiler alert), the sound design perfectly sets the stage for an intense second and third act.

Overall, the direction from Berg is impressive, Wahlberg gives an incredible performance, and the action is exciting without going too over-the-top.