Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Hudson, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez, John Malkovich, Ethan Suplee, Dylan O’Brien
Director: Peter Berg
The art of screwing something up and then presenting it in a glorified way is something the Hollywood is very good at. Deepwater Horizon, the oil rig that blew up in 2010 had become big news back then, not because of the massive fireball it created, which was apparently visible from 64 km away, but also because it resulted in one of the largest oil spills in the history. It was the deepest oil rig and believably one of the best and strongest. But like every other beautiful and amazing piece of technology Americans blew this one too. The movie seems like a glorified re-enactment of the actual incidence, and it quickly gets to the point. After a brief introduction to the family of Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), the story takes us right to the departure for the rig where we are introduced to the rest of the characters. For the real Mike Williams, who is seen in the end credits, it seems like his version of the story has been said, just like in 127 hours or Sully. However, this is one side of the story and you may want to know more, see more.
As a viewer you are confused between whether one should loathe the antagonists of the story who overlooked some basic technicalities and lead to the disaster or praise the grit and commitment to life of those who survived the ordeal. One cannot really pick sides, and the trouble is such re-enactment of a disastrous event leaves you with no choice. One usually finds that the characters that are cast as antagonists carry that image where the viewer is provoked to begin suspecting and ultimately hate the person. One needs more elaborate understanding of the real characters that lived and maybe perished in those circumstances. I believe that people who hold such high offices are well aware of their responsibilities, and there has to be something more than just greed and stupidity that made them take those calls. Otherwise it is just a replication of the verdict that the courts pronounce; one might as well read the judgments, why go through the pain of making a film about it.
You might say that it makes it easier to convey the dangers of minor miscalculations, well we all saw Titanic way before Deepwater Horizon happened. I don’t feel it changed anything. Mark Wahlberg is a nice guy, a hero, who himself in deep trouble would still watch out for his fellows but is it really that easy? I mean when you are in the middle of the ocean, and the whole rig is on fire, and it is no ordinary fire, its petroleum fire, which produces extreme temperatures, can one still remain heroic? The trouble I feel with making films about such disasters is that actors are merely acting out the scene in studios in front of green screens, which are then processed to add those surroundings, as a result, the actors are not actually feeling the heat do not have the fear of imminent death.
In such situations you need actors who have the capability to reach such emotional stresses, deliver performances that make you cringe and choke a little. Sadly Deepwater Horizon does not seem to have that. There are brief moments of muck spilling in the film where it is possible for the actors to convey the criticality because there is perhaps actual muck that they are facing. As a child I read why history is important, so we can reflect on the errors that humanity made and avoid committing those blunders again, but time and again we have seen how these blunders keep repeating themselves. Names, places and time change but the blunders keep happening. The only thing we achieve out of such study of disasters is to build better, more powerful and efficient systems, which collapse again to a larger provocation, a different stimulus.
The writer is founder, Lightcube Film Society...