As I sat in the theater waiting for this movie to start a conversation with a fellow writer ensued about the proper wait time for a movie to be made about a disaster. While we never came to a conclusion, it seems the filmmakers behind “Deepwater Horizon” think six years is long enough. The film tells the story that took place in April 2010 and created the largest oil spill in U.S. History.
The day started off normal enough as men and women leave their families to go to the oil platform for three weeks. Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) is one of those me, as he leaves his wife and daughter behind. Lead by Mr. Jimmy (Kurt Russell) and his no nonsense leadership, the platform has been a safe place to work. While Jimmy is about following the procedures to keep everyone safe, the platform is behind schedule, which is putting pressure on others. Most of that pressure coming from BP, which is the company that owns everything, including the oil that is to be pumped from the well. When executives from BP start to push through even though there are warning signs not to, all hell break lose. Like the pressure that starts the disaster, the destruction starts off slow, building to a tipping point and finally reaching the point of total disaster.
This is a an event that most people remember, as the well ended up being open for eighty something days with over two hundred million barrels of oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. Like most real life situations the story is already written, it’s how it’s told that matters. Peter Berg (Hancock, Lone Survivor) is the man in charge, and he has found a little niche in bringing these stories to life, in the right way. Berg has a classic style to his filmmaking, where he frames clearly the action that is unfolding on the screen. Shooting from a screenplay from Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand, Berg lets the story tell itself, only acting as the illustrator to bring it to life. The story is amazing, as the crew that made it out alive and the people who didn’t, as well as some who risked their lives so that others can live. Nothing can take away from that story, but as a movie, while the story is great, the movie itself falls somewhere around average.
The technical filmmaking style of Berg does take some of the emotion out of the story, as the disaster itself seems to be on center stage. The human element takes second chair, as often it can be hard to understand what is going on. While the film has its flaws, watching a story so many of us heard on the news unfold is a site to see. Stories like this are best told, so that we can learn from our mistakes, as well as witness what people can achieve when faced with a dire situation. “Deepwater Horizon” is a good enough piece of entertainment, but it leaves one wondering if there was an even better story that could have been.