Deepwater Horizon | Review

The second I saw this trailer I knew I was going to enjoy the movie, I just didn’t realise how much. DEEPWATER HORIZON is an action/ disaster movie of epic proportions. Call it a modern day POSEIDON ADVENTURE but instead of an ocean liner it’s set on an oil rig with a lot less women in pretty dresses. I compare it to POSEIDON ADVENTURE because honestly, it is nearly as good. DEEPWATER HORIZON releases this Thursday 6th October in Australia from Roadshow Films. You need to find the biggest cinema screen possible with the loudest sound system and sit on the edge of your seat in tension for 107mins. It is rated M. 



DEEPWATER HORIZON is mostly based on a true story. An epic environmental disaster on a global scale. It is the largest oil spill in history, spilling what is estimated at between 162000 and 470000 tonnes of oil into the Gulf Of Mexico. It was caused by a well blowout on the drilling rig, the DEEPWATER HORIZON. The rig was old, safety precautions took a little cut and disaster struck into a full blown fireball explosion that killed eleven people and badly injured many more.

This movie tells the glossy version of events and while it isn’t historically accurate with its facts, as a film it is close to perfect.


Deepwater Horizon Kurt Russell image



While a true story, if you ignore that and take this as an oil disaster movie, it is a work of genius. A movie where you actually know what is going to happen but regardless the tension of the plot and direction takes over. It controls your pulse and as the tension winds your pulse quickens. The first hour is foreplay, the last forty-five minutes is hard core disaster movie dirty sweaty sex. And once that action starts it NEVER relents until the closing scenes.


DEEPWATER HORIZON does an incredible job in simplifying, but not lecturing, in the facts of how the event occurred. I learned quite a bit while watching this – the one thing that I have always been curious about was the oil rigs themselves. Did you know they aren’t actually platforms sealed to the floor of the ocean? They are actually odd shaped boats that are constantly steered. This actually made me say the word “wow” in the screening.


He just went up my list of fave directors. I spoke to a friend after the screening who said to me “Berg is probably the most underrated director in Hollywood.” I didn’t know too much so had an IMDB study and what a resume, I now completely agree with said friend. FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, THE KINGDOM, HANCOCK, BATTLESHIP (no shame – I loved it), LONE SURVIVOR and a huge amount of TV direction. Bravo. I like his style. I will say though that DEEPWATER HORIZON has taken him next level.


One of things that stood out to me was the realism in the community on board. Each team were a unit with their own little qualms and language. It felt like a navy boat, regimented but more relaxed. The movie gave a feeling of a real life “day in the life” on the rig when things unfortunately went to shit, it was nearly removed from Hollywoodisms until the hero moves and American flags.


Deepwater Horizon Mark Wahlberg image



Besides the epic special effects, sublime tension and perfect direction there is another thing that makes this movie as brilliant as it is. The cast. A cast to just blow the mind.

Wahlberg – in his perfect environment – action – I just love this guy!! And his scenes with Kate Hudson were cute – damn good chemistry.

Russel – one of my favourite actors of all time. Perfect in this role, especially when he gives it to the BP guys.

Rodriguez – for me a newcomer but named one of the next big things on the horizon. I really liked her onscreen, expect to see more of her.

Malkovich – for the love of all that is good in the world, can we just have him star in every movie ever made. Probably the best line deliverer on film. I love you John Malkovich – more so when you are the bad guy.

O’Brien – Dylan O’Brien is one of my favourite current generation actors. TEEN WOLF (TV) is a guilty pleasure and O’Brien tends to steal the show. His work on THE MAZE RUNNER is also impressive and he is about to set Hollywood on fire with a lot of high profile movies in production.

Hudson – love her. As she has aged and has gotten a bit of sun tan skin ageing she is looking exactly like her mum. Love this. I wanted more of her than “the wife.” However her role was important to show that it is not just the people effected on these rigs or in isolated circumstances.


Deepwater Horizon John Malkovich image



DEEPWATER HORIZON is an effects heavy movie but for the first time in a long time it does not steal the show, it enhances it. When that action kicks in expect your heart to pound for a good thirty minutes, I was bordering on an anxiety attack.

The Oscar for visual effects is so far in the bag for this movie. There are literally more people listed for special effects in this movie than there are actors onscreen for the entire movie. It pays off, the realism was flawless.


Three things didn’t sit perfectly for me. Dylan O’Brien’s character was incredibly underused. His character was marvelous and his accent was brilliant. But he was meant to be some young protege to Wahlberg’s character but he just kept disappearing offscreen, half the time I wondered if he had died in the latest explosion but then his head would pop up. I just though his character needed a better arc.

Another thing was the one scene with the American flag flying perfectly with a wall of fire behind it. Call it an Australian thing, but over patriotism just rubs me the wrong way – why do all these films HAVE TO HAVE A FLAG SCENE!!!


Deepwater Horizon Gina Rodriguez image



The other thing that has to get a mention. The inaccuracies. It is clear that this is a Hollywood action movie that must be made with black and white motives. There must be good and there must be bad. In this BP is clearly the evil people on the rig and the oil rig workers evidently the heroes. But that is not actually 100% the case, yes BP was in the wrong but they weren’t pure evil.

OK – mostly true….

In reality BP received the brunt of the blame for the disaster in the aftermath of the incident. BP created a culture where profit was prioritized over safety, according to federal officials. And, as a result, the company paid a $20 billion settlement for the environmental toll and another $4 billion in a criminal probe.

In one scene, however, Vidrine (Malkovich) concocts a convenient theory that would allow the drilling process to move faster. In reality, witnesses said, that theory was concocted by a Transocean employee.

It also made the BP guys seem like blithering idiots making rash and immediate decisions, however, in reality, they were consulting with off-rig BP engineers on decisions.

Then there is the Rodriguez character, Andrea Fleytas, who heroically calls in a mayday despite not having the authority to do so. The film captured that moment perfectly, but misses her initial failure to activate alarms that would have warned people on the ship to an impending disaster. Fleytas was understandably overwhelmed when 10 magenta lights—the most serious warning onboard—began flashing. But, nonetheless, the movie largely excludes several moments when action by the film’s heroes could have reduced the scale of the disaster.

The one thing that kept going through my head was how the hell was the movie allowed to paint such a hideous picture of BP – will we be watching a movie in ten years about one of the greatest lawsuits in Hollywood history or was there some way this was allowed?

NB: Inaccuracies were taken from a TIME article and a NY TIMES article the movie is heavily influenced by.


Deepwater Horizon Dylan O'Brien image



This is the best action movie in ten years that hasn’t had a superhero in it. It is also probably the best disaster movie since TITANIC, that I can think of. It is up there now as one of my all time favourite disaster movies and will make my Top 10 movies of 2016. Out this Thursday – don’t miss it.


4 and a Half Pops




 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.


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