Review: Deepwater Horizon

I got bored just thinking about this movie. Not only have I had my fill of biopics and “based on a true story” movies this month, but the trailers made it look as if I was going to watch a painfully average movie starring Mark Wahlberg as generic protagonist whose relatability starts and ends with him being a family man with a child. On top of that, seeing Kate Hudson gave me writhingly uncomfortable flashbacks of what is most likely going to be the worst movie of 2016 for me.

 

So imagine the delightfully surprised look on my face when I discovered that this movie was quite good.

 

Because the central focus of the story is the drill explosion, what this film needed to do was utilize the time before the main event well, and Deepwater Horizon delivers. The dialogue in this movie far surpasses the average quality I see in movies like this. Not only are the conversations between characters enthralling, but they also told me a lot of things about each character.

Now when I hear most people describe movie dialogue as “good” or “bad”, I usually find out later that what they’re really measuring is how flowery/intricate the script is, as if every movie needs to be have Tarantino dialogue to be good, and as if simple dialogue is always bad. When I look at dialogue in a movie, I ask three simple questions: is it organic (rather than unfitting or expository)? Is it interesting (rather than generic)? And does it tell me subtly revealing things about each character?

When I reflect on the dialogue in Deepwater Horizon, it fulfill all three of these, and I was more than satisfied.

 

And wouldn’t you know it, because the movie decided to take this kind of time with their characters and give them relatable motivations as well as organic character, I actually became concerned and scared for the characters when the actual danger occurs.

 

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Every person in this film does a great job, but the greatest of the great jobs was undoubtedly done by Kurt Russel. His character is not only the sole performance that I would call transformative, but he goes through a vast array of emotions in this movie as well, and I could feel the rawness of his performance.

Aside from that, Mark Wahlberg, while not necessarily exceptional, does a great job, and so does Kate Hudson. There was a genuine feeling of love and affection that they had for each other that had me sold on their relationship. John Malkovich as the smarmy BP executive was also great.

 

Surprisingly, the daughter to Wahlberg’s character was good as well. I think the director realized that she was not a good enough actor to spend too much time on because she’s in the movie sparingly. However, when she was in the film, she held her own enough for me to not be taken out of the movie completely.

 

 

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As I said above, because the movie utilized its time before the explosions, the whole spectacle felt that much more important. Not only that, but there are some really gritty and brutal scenes that depicted savage harm that was put on these men when crap really hits the fan.

The film had me writhing in pain as oil shot out of places at such a strong velocity that people were being shot up like rag dolls into steel equipment.

 

The only thing in this film that truly got on my nerves was that at some points, the film decided that it needs to put white text on the screen to explain something that required no explanation whatsoever.

In the beginning parts of the movie, you hear all the important characters go to the airport and take turns saying “I’m heading to Deepwater Horizon”.

And then once they get to the oil rig everyone’s going to, the establishing shots are accompanied with the subtitles

“Deepwater Horizon

Oil Rig, out on the coast of (wherever)

(large number) people currently on board.”

 

This kind of text almost always bothers me because it’s lazy, but the film frequently places them in areas where context is not even needed because the dialogue more than explained everything I needed to know. It was massively infuriating to see a movie be so condescending that it thinks it needs to explain things to me that were so obviously established.

 

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Deepwater Horizon is a surprisingly eventful movie that does not waste much of its time at all. It gives respect to its characters, its script, and its content and material. Because of this, I was able to become absorbed into the story. If for some reason, you are like me and thought the trailers made the story seem horrendous, place your doubts to the side and give Deepwater Horizon a shot, and I’m giving this movie an 8 out of 10.
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