Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Movie with Abe: Deepwater Horizon

Deepwater Horizon
Directed by Peter Berg
Released September 30, 2016

There is a tendency for major events in recent history to be dramatized and brought to the big screen in the form of action movies. That might seem like an insensitive trend, but the hope is that telling the story will pay tribute to the courage displayed by the survivors and to the heroic efforts of those who didn’t make it out alive. Peter Berg is a director often attached to films such as this, including another from 2016, “Patriots Day,” and therefore it’s no surprise that he is the one behind the movie version of the drilling rig explosion that caused the largest and most catastrophic oil spill in history.

This film features three primary protagonists around whom the story is told: chief electronics technician Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), navigation officer Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez), and rig supervisor Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell). The three of them share the unique quality of staying as calm as can be expected under pressure, reacting swiftly to the realization that there was something seriously wrong with the rig and that enormous destruction was about to follow. As soon as the explosions begin, there’s no turning back as this film hurtles without any relief towards its conclusion.

Since this is based on such an intense true story, there isn’t much extra fanfare or invention of events needed to make it immensely dramatic. This film doesn’t go into unnecessary survival mode, instead staying focused on its selected characters to take it through as they remain aboard a giant ship that is rapidly catching fire with increasingly little hope of putting it out. These people are simply putting their training to use and doing what they can to salvage a terrible situation that might have been prevented but can’t be stopped or reversed in the heat of the moment.

This is Wahlberg’s third straight collaboration with Berg, and while his Boston accent is noticeably missing, he is definitely a great fit to play Williams, displaying less comic charm than usual in a pretty standard serious role. Rodriguez makes a big departure from her “Jane the Virgin” image to play a more technical part, and the film doesn’t give her all that much to do while Russell has the opportunity to chew scenery throughout most of it. The film’s sound editing and visual effects, both of which earned Oscar nominations, drive and define it, helping to make this a better-than-average and better-than-expected blockbuster that does a fitting job of acknowledging its real-life inspiration as it ends.


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