Director Peter Berg continues his transformation into Mini Michael Bay, and his collaboration with Mark Wahlberg, with Deepwater Horizon, his slick, relentless and ultimately sobering disaster flick inspired by the real-life 2010 catastrophe off the Louisiana coast that resulted in the largest oil spill in U.S. waters.
Wahlberg plays a New Orleans engineer who leaves his wife (Kate Hudson) and daughter for three weeks to work on the titular, semi-submersible oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Upon arriving at the rig, he and the rig supervisor (Kurt Russell) learn that reps for the company operating the rig are rushing drilling procedures, which ultimately reaps catastrophic consequences.
For the first hour or so, Berg does a bang up job making sure we get to know the rig workers. Wahlberg, Russell, Gina Rodriguez as the rig’s navigation officer, Dylan O’Brien as a drill team member, among others, convey such natural camaraderie that they feel like a family, making John Malkovich, as one of the company reps, seem even more like the outsider he is.
Also during that initial hour, as the workers toss around convincing sounding oil-rig lingo and we learn about the rig itself, Berg proves himself a disaster-flick pro, readying us for the impending cataclysm by cutting to shots of ominous rumblings on the ocean floor and the that-doesn’t-look-good actions of the workings underneath the rig.
When things start going wrong, Berg, much like he did in Lone Survivor, not only expertly conveys the intensity of it all, but the relentlessness of a horrific chain of events. Gushing water leads to mud and debris — and gas — which leads smaller explosions which leads to the entire rig going up in a massive fireball that could seen 40 miles away.
Berg makes that massive explosion a truly spectacular thing, and ensures we can feel the heat of ensuing fires on the back of the necks of the people who stumble around the crippled rig afterwards in stunned horror. But he doesn’t stylize it quite as much as would Bay, which helps makes the suffering of the people who endured the event more palpable.
Wahlberg again portrays a working-class man, which means we can relate to him, which is fine, while Hudson is wasted as the worrying-wife. Russell, however, seems more at home here than anyone else. He exudes easy charm and humor and authority, and so you know why the workers cheer him on as he accepts an award. He earns his actorly keep. – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 1/10/17