Broaden your horizons and get your feet wet: Deepwater Horizon


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Megan Tran, Santa Fe Staff Writer

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, igniting a massive fireball that killed several crew members of the BP oil rig and creating the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Peter Berg, the director of “Deepwater Horizon” (2016), was inspired to create a movie thriller based on this disaster.

The film involves the story of chief electronics technician, Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), and his colleagues, Mr. Jimmy (Kurt Russell) and Landry (Douglas Griffin). They find themselves fighting for survival as the heat and the flames from the oil rig explosion become stifling and overwhelming inside the drilling rig. Banding together, the co-workers must use their wits to make it out alive amid all of the chaos.  

The most exciting point in the film is undoubtedly when the explosion first happens. Water and mud spray the chamber and bodies are violently tossed around while the rig wrenches, twists and groans as if in pain. It’s an exquisitely staged sequence and the fact that this situation was a reality makes it all the more powerful and terrifying.

“Deepwater Horizon” captures the explosions just right with the vivid and realistic effects, but it’s everything around them-the people, the aftermath, the tragedy-that the movie misses. The movie as a whole appears to be more concerned with set pieces and action blockbuster stunt work than it is with the people involved. If it went deeper into the lives of those on that rig after the incident by interviewing the families of those involved, for instance, it would have helped the film give more perspective into the situation as a whole.

The film also doesn’t include the effects of the wildlife impacted by the explosion. The estimated 170 million gallons of oil that flooded into the Gulf in 2010 killed more than 8,000 birds, sea turtles and marine animals, but the movie doesn’t touch on this topic.

Despite its flaws of not dwelling into the aftermath of the incident, “Deepwater Horizon” allows its viewers to remember the severity of the man-made tragedy that shook the U.S. in 2010. Berg makes sure to keep the film as realistic as possible by depicting Williams as a low-key, regular guy, but he also finds a way to get blockbuster effects while sacrificing none of the realism. The result is a film that will both infuriate and horrify in equal measure.


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