“Deepwater Horizon” – BP’s Gulf Oil Disaster

Release Date: September 30, 2016
Running Time: 1 hour and 47 minutes
Rated PG-13
Grade B+

Directed By: Peter Berg

We’re a big company. Millions of moving parts. We all work very hard to ensure that those moving parts function as a means to a very profitable end for all of us.

image1-3In April 2010, Mike Williams (head electronics technician) prepares to go on a 21-day stint on an oil rig which is located in the Gulf of Mexico. The Deepwater Horizon is an exploratory drilling rig that sets up the pipeline for future harvesting. His wife, Felicia, and ten year old daughter, Sydney, remind him that he would be the coolest dad if he could bring back a dinosaur fossil for Sydney’s class. Riding along with Mike’s crew on the helicopter trip to the rig are two executives from BP which makes a total of seven executives aboard the Deepwater Horizon. When he gets to the rig he notices that the crew that he is replacing is leaving without conducting the cement bond log test. Vidrine (a BP executive) reminds Captain James Harrell (Mr. Jimmy) and Williams that they are 43 days behind schedule. After much discussion, Mr. Jimmy agrees to proceed if the negative pressure test is successfully conducted. The first test was inconclusive so at the request of Vidrine a second test was conducted that passed. Unbeknownst to all decision makers, the cement barrier was allowing hydrocarbons to flow up the wellbore, through the riser, and onto the rig. What happens next tests the courage of the survivors of one of the world’s largest man-made disasters.

deepwater0006All that I can recall from the April 20, 2010 BP oil spill disaster is the effect that it had on the marine life and beaches of Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Florida. In fact, this is possibly the first ‘based on a true story’ that I’ve seen whose screenplay isn’t adapted from a book. Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand actually penned the screenplay based on a Post to Post Links II error: No link found for term slug "New York Times" article by Stephanie Saul and David Rohde. Many oil workers in the Gulf of Mexico were against the making of this movie, but Mike Williams felt that it was time that people knew what they went through as this disaster unfolded. I, for one, am very glad that he did. His assistance, along with a lack of CGI feel, made this one of the best ‘based on real events’ movies that I’ve seen.

An oil rig was built just for this film and has been coined as one of the largest sets to date. The Arri Alexa 65 and XT cameras were skillfully guided by Enrique Chediak (127 hours, The Maze Runner, and 28 Weeks Later) exquisitely captured all of the activity above and below the water. This is a film that MUST be viewed on the big screen (the bigger the better) to fully appreciate the impressive cinematography.

The ensemble cast drilled the emotionally charged intense story home. Twice Oscar nominated (The Departed and The Fighter) Mark Wahlberg excelled as the main character with his smooth transition from family man to hero. Veteran actors Kurt Russell and John Malkovich are always a pleasure to watch even if they are in supporting roles and they absolutely were captivating in their roles. Kate Hudson, in her first collaboration with her step-father, had a small but important role since she represented how the families of the oil workers felt as the tragedy unraveled. The scene where she breaks down brought a tear to my eye. The young Stella Allen (Free State of Jones) was very entertaining as she used a Coca-Cola can to demonstrate what her father does for a living.

deepwater0004Eight time BMI TV & Film Music Award winning Steve Jablonsky‘s heart pounding soundtrack proved to be the perfect companion for the excellent casting and superb cinematography. Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) must be given credit for directing this amazing picture as he is known for his dramatic films that have constantly moving camera work. I can now add Deepwater Horizon to my favorite Peter Berg films after The Rundown and Hancock. Jump on into the theater to see this one! ~Movie Buffette

My wife’s name is Felicia and my daughter is Sydney. I will see them again. Do you understand me?

Summit Entertainment’s Deepwater Horizon recounts the terrifying moments on board the offshore drilling rig owned by Transocean and leased to BP (formerly known as British Pretroleum) that had a blowout which resulted in an explosion that killed 11 crew. Most of us know about the environmental disaster and how is affected not only the marine life, but the greater ecosystem in Florida, Alabama and Louisiana. But how many of us have heard the story about the brave men and woman on board Deepwater Horizon and their heroic efforts to save each other and themselves.  Director Berg does an exceptional job telling their stories.


The special effects are something to be in awe of. Berg and cinematographer Chediak did a remarkable job with the explosions and fire on the set. The film is so realistic that it appears you are watching the disaster unfold before your eyes.  The fireball was visible for 40 miles away.

The film includes such A-listers as Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Mark Wahlberg and Kate Hudson to name a few. Malkovich portrays a BP official that you just want to shout at and Kurt Russell did such an amazing job as the general operational supervisor Jimmy Harrell (Mr. Jimmy) that you forgot you were watching Kurt.

The film concentrates on the personal stories, but it does touch on the human element and greed that drove the executives to move forward, despite the unanswered questions and tests that were not completed. Berg also does a notable job with a moving tribute to those that lost their lives and the survivors.  Deepwater Horizon is a thrilling story based on real life events that occurred during the worse environmental disaster and oil spill in U.S. history. The gripping story is packed with action and made to be seen in a cinema. ~A.S. MacLeod


Mark Wahlberg as Mike Williams

Kate Hudson as Felicia Williams

Stella Allen as Sydney Williams

John Malkovich as Vidrine

Dylan O’Brien as Caleb Holloway

Douglas M.Griffin as Landry

James DuMont as O’Bryan

Joe Chrest as Sims

Gina Rodriguez as Andrea Fleytas

Brad Leland as Kaluza

Ethan Suplee as Jason Anderson

and Kurt Russell as Jimmy Harrell


About Leigh Ann Rassler