Hollywood superstar Mark Wahlberg and director Pete Berg dive head first into the pulse-pounding true story of the events that lead up to the BP oil crisis, and those that experienced it first hand, in Deepwater Horizon.
From the very first frame, Berg throws his audience into this ticking time bomb of a movie. The audience’s dread builds with every passing scene, until the inevitable explosion that literally rips the rig in half. And what an explosion it is! This combination of voluminous fire, burning metal, razor-edged shrapnel, and black smoke is enough to send shivers down your spine. Berg does all of this to keep his audience on the edge of their seats, and in doing so crafts his best film to date. This is a director who just gets better and better with each new film.
Berg also devotes considerable time to each character, which made me that much more committed as an audience member. Taking the lead is Mark Wahlberg who gives his most human performance to date as electrical engineer Mike Williams. Wahlberg sheds his macho Hollywood image here, and really settles into the role of an ordinary, blue-collar guy.
As Williams, Wahlberg has no superpowers, just an extraordinary will and unflinching courage in the face of the mounting disaster in front of him. Wahlberg gives everything to the role, both in his emotional quest to be reunited with his family, and the physical dangers of the film’s mammoth set. His attention is on honouring the real-life heroics of Williams, who actively put his life in danger to save others. Though our screens have been packed with superheroes this year, it’s great to finally see a real life hero up there.
Supporting Wahlberg in his authenticity is Kurt Russell as the rig’s captain Jimmy ‘Mr. Jimmy’ Harrell, who has the world on his shoulders when times get tough. Russell’s performance is so spot on that you don’t see him as the Hollywood legend that he is. In a world where it’s sometimes hard to distinguish between actor and character, Russell’s commitment to portraying Harrell is incredibly refreshing. You completely buy into this man’s concern for his crew, and the unease that he gets from decisions that are being made without his consent.
John Malkovich also brings plenty of corporate menace to BP company man Donald Vidrine, whose actions directly lead to the disaster that unfolds. From heavy-handed manager to a timid and disbelieving survivor, Vidrine’s character arch offers a bit more depth than most corporate villain types.
As Mike’s wife Felicia, Kate Hudson offers a performance that’s crucial to the film. Watching Wahlberg and Hudson on screen, you really buy into their relationship as a married couple, which becomes important as the film’s harrowing events unfold. All of this leads to a tumultuous reunion scene that’ll leave your heart beating particularly fast.
With a film as raw as Deepwater Horizon, your emotions are sure to run high thanks to a cinematic experience that is both devastating, yet tremendously inspiring.
Image: Roadshow Films