Magazine article Screen International

'Deepwater Horizon': Toronto Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Deepwater Horizon': Toronto Review

Article excerpt

Dir. Peter Berg. US, 2016, 107 mins.

Many elements of the Deepwater Horizon disaster were profoundly shocking. The explosion on the oil rig and loss of 11 souls; the fact the blowout lasted for 87 days, swathing Louisiana in 4.9 million gallons of oil; the staggering extent of BP's corporate irresponsibility. Director Peter Berg has opted to fashion a solid, old-fashioned disaster movie out of the events of the night of April 20, 2010, and the result is nail-bitingly tense, even if it's frustratingly superficial.

Deepwater Horizon is expertly put-together - from the classically-structured narrative which leads up to the big blowout, to the blistering execution of the explosion itself. Despite repeated expository dialogue about the blast's technical causes, however, the nuts and bolts of the rig's operation are muddy. A wider perspective on events isn't attempted, ensuring Deepwater Horizon will play well to the disaster movie crowd - those who responded to 2015's Everest, or A Perfect Storm in 2000 - when it rolls out globally through Lionsgate from September 29.

Such is the complex nature of the platform - the Horizon was an ultra-deepwater drilling rig, owned by Transocean and leased to BP - Berg and screenwriters Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand find themselves repeatedly having to tell the viewer exactly what it is. They start by having the young daughter of the rig's chief electronics engineer Mike Williams (Wahlberg) explain her daddy's job for a class project. Mike is a devoted family man, and who wouldn't be, with a sexy wife like Felicia (Kate Hudson).

Mike returns to the rig after shore leave along with its offshore installation manager, the respected Mr Jimmy (Kurt Russell), deputy dynamic positioning officer Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez) and some members of BP's cost-conscious management team. Things aren't going well when they get out to sea, 41 miles offthe Louisiana coast, and it would seem that BP is making too many safety shortcuts, concerned that the operation is 47 days behind schedule. …

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