Deepwater Horizon (2016) – Review

deepwaterhorizonposterThe Deepwater Horizon explosion was a sudden and dramatic incident which preceded the worst environmental disaster in US history. When I first heard about this film, I was irritated by the idea of trivialising such a tragedy by trying to make it into an exciting action film. I was very wrong.

This is a deadly serious, tragic film about real people struggling to survive an epic disaster that took the lives of 11 people. Deepwater Horizon does not shy away from pointing fingers, specifically at BP, but it manages not to make it annoying until the epilogue and it seems justified considering the part that BP and the other companies involved played in allowing this tragedy to occur.

Thankfully, it doesn’t do this by giving us over the top characters but real, skilled people just trying to do their job properly and live their lives. Mark Wahlberg is great in the lead, a grounded intelligent man who is level-headed under pressure, he comes across as the everyday hero throughout this film and it never really strays into the unbelievable, though there are moments of this at times with other characters.

Grounded, real characters are what make this film more than just a visually stunning disaster flick.
Grounded, real characters are what make this film more than just a visually stunning disaster flick.

The rest of the cast is similarly excellent, with Kurt Russell and John Malkovich also delivering strong performances. Dylan O’Brien (who you may recognise from the Maze Runner films) is surprisingly great and, while he doesn’t get too many chances to shine, he shows some strong acting skills that will have me keeping an eye out for him in future films.

Far and above, Deepwater Horizon‘s greatest strength is its visuals. Once the shit hits the fan, this film becomes stunning. Wide shots of the oil rig are shocking as it is engulfed in fire and explosions rock parts of the structure. There are parts of the film where shaky cam is used a little too liberally but there are plenty of beautiful static shots to make up for that.

Likewise, sound plays a great part in helping you feel how catastrophic this event was, as actors are thrown about by explosions and fight their way through choking clouds of burning smoke, you can really get into the raw action of the scenes.

This intensity is quickly becoming a speciality for Peter Berg, who previously directed the excellent Lone Survivor (2013). While Deepwater Horizon takes a well-earned, but heavy-handed chunk of time to drop the blame on BP, and honour the people who died in the tragedy, it is visually spectacular and gripping throughout.

Susannah Stumbled

tunnel


This was a piece of fiction written for the site Burrst.com in its infancy. Though the site didn’t achieve the popularity it deserved, my post took the top spot and remains there three years later.
Link for those interested: http://burrst.com/bursts/36/?offset=0

Susannah stumbled over a particularly large piece of broken stone and would have fallen flat on her face if she hadn’t collided into the nearest wall. She span away from the curved wall of the tunnel and continued running, doing her best to ignore the grating sound from her shoulder and the jolting pain in her arm.
She cranked the pace up, remembering the blood on her boyfriend’s face as he staggered out of the darkness, what had to have been only minutes ago. Then the endless running and falling: these dank tunnels seemed to continue on infinitely into the darkness. If she hadn’t been scared out of her mind, and bleeding in several places, Susannah would have likely translated the situation into some pretentious metaphor about life and death.
Judging from her frequent collisions with walls and rocky outcrops, the tunnel was curving and turning occasionally. Susannah thought she was going in the same direction as when she started, but she’d heard that when you were lost and thought you were going in a straight line, you could often find yourself travelling in circles. She wasn’t sure if that applied to tunnels as well as woods and mountains. Either way, Susannah would give anything to be lost in the woods rather than this damp and dangerous tunnel: one unfortunately placed outcrop of rock combined with some equally unfortunate timing and she would be a goner.
Connor had gotten ahead of her any number of minutes ago but she hadn’t heard or seen him in a while. He had to be up here somewhere, and all she had to do was catch up with him and they could figure a way out together. She assumed he would be close: with a head injury and twelve years of smoking under his belt, he couldn’t be that quick.
Susannah was experiencing hope for the first time during this endless run when her bad shoulder connected with a sharp corner in the tunnel and, wheeling around to regain her balance, her foot slipped into a crack in the floor. She heard the snap her ankle made but barely registered the pain, too busy cursing as she collided with the floor and slid over an edge into darkness.
It took about two and a half seconds for Susannah to hit the bottom of the hole and for her neck to break and her body to contort into a shattered mess. She wasn’t counting down, she only had time for two things in the couple of seconds before her death.
The first was to scream and the second was to recognise one other sound amid her screaming. Something far above her, in the tunnel at the edge of the pit, was laughing.