Movie Review: “Deepwater Horizon”

Deepwater Horizon was the oil rig that experienced the greatest oil rig disaster in American history. The crew working on the rig have formed a family of sorts. Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) is the chief electrical engineer on board and he has the respect of his crew behind him. The crew works well together, but when a couple of representatives from BP oil come on board, they put the lives of everyone on the rig at risk.

BP oil is the company that owns the oil rig and, in an effort to cut costs, the representatives decide to forego standard quality controls. Mike Williams is among the men who know this is a bad idea, but they are powerless to do anything about it. Despite every warning from the crew, the BP representatives continue to sacrifice quality procedures. The result is a disastrous incident that could prove fatal to anyone on board the rig. Mike Williams and his crew must do what they can to survive while trying to save as many fellow crew mates as possible.

Pro: Intensity (+8pts)

Deepwater Horizon opens by setting up a couple of characters, the main focus of this is obviously Mark Wahlberg’s character, Mike Williams. Then there is more setup of the lifestyle and community on the oil rig itself. Make no mistake, none of the setup was boring, and once the disaster began, the intensity of this movie was insane. During it all, I felt at least a fraction of the hopelessness of being within a massively powerful vessel that was exploding and falling apart around me.

I get that this movie is a dramatization of true events, but the disaster that the characters were in the middle of felt very real. This, mixed with the scale of what was happening, made for a really intense movie. I cannot imagine what this must have been like for the men and women actually on board. For that reason, I found this to be a pretty powerful movie.

Con: Character Development (-4pts)

While I thought the movie was very intense, there was some room for improvement. I only found myself caring about a couple of characters, which was a result of how few characters were properly developed. During the real-life incident only about a dozen people died. Is that what happens in this movie? You will have to see it to find out, but I would have liked to have seen the story focus on more characters who did not survive.

If the filmmakers had done this, it would have given each death more weight, and would have given the audience a sense of an “anyone could die” mentality. Additionally, Mike Williams was essentially the only properly developed character in the movie. I get that Mark Wahlberg was the star of the movie, but the character development definitely felt unbalanced. In a movie filled with so many characters and so many lives at stake, it felt like a missed opportunity to develop so few of them.

Pro: Mike & The Crew (+6pts)

The filmmakers dropped the ball on character development, but they did a good job of making the crew feel like a family. I really enjoyed the community of the men and women on board. Between how well they knew and got along with one another, as well as how well they knew the ship and its faults, it made for an interesting community. They had a real family vibe, which made the inevitable disaster even more intense. The side characters were poorly developed, yes, but depicting the crew as a family made me feel that Mike Williams cared very strongly about everyone he worked with and it made Mike Williams come across as a well respected member of the team. I did not connect with the side characters individually, but the community vibe made me feel the weight that Mike felt when people he knew and cared about were in danger.

Con: Mike’s Family (-2pts)

Mike’s family were among the side characters that were poorly developed. However, with the poorly developed crew members, we at least cared about them through Mike. I did not feel any connection to Mike’s wife or daughter, which meant that I did not have that extra concern of whether or not Mike would make it back to his family. I felt that we definitely needed at least a little more focus on his family, so that we could have the concern over how the family would go on if Mike did not survive the rig.

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