Thursday, October 20, 2016

Deepwater Horizon Review

You know you've made it in life when you do something so heroic that Mark Wahlberg ends up playing you in a Peter Berg directed movie. Or, on the contrary, I suppose it could also be said that you know your life sucks when you've gone through something so horrific that Mark Wahlberg ends up playing you in a Peter Berg directed movie. Two years ago, the two collaborated on the Navy SEAL movie Lone Survivor. Then just two weeks ago, their second collaboration about the Deepwater Horizon explosion, titled Deepwater Horizon, was released. Later this year a third movie by these two will be released about the Boston Marathon bombing called Patriots Day will be released. I don't know what to call this Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, Patriots Day trilogy, but it's an interesting thing they're doing that continues this interesting trend of turning recent news stories into movies. Peter Berg is pretty good at it, too, as he's now two for two on this. Lone Survivor was a phenomenal movie in my opinion and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Deepwater Horizon is just as good, if not better. Strange that this is the same man who directed Battleship.

In case you were living under a rock in 2010, the Deepwater Horizon explosion and ensuing oil spill was one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. If I have my facts right, it is officially the second largest oil spill in history and the largest accidental one as the only oil spill that was bigger was done on purpose in 1991. That according to this article I found about the 13 largest oil spills in history that I have linked right there. If you want to fact check me on that, that's up to you. Point is that this was a major disaster that was all over the news in 2010. Even if you're not an expert on the oil industry (I certainly am not), I would be shocked to learn if anyone didn't at least hear something about a giant oil spill back in 2010. This movie Deepwater Horizon is specifically centered around the events that transpired on April 20, 2010 when the explosion happened that ended up killing 11 people out of the 100+ people that were there that day. The movie is officially based on the New York Times article that was written about the event later that year. It's an absolutely fascinating read. If you haven't read it, I'd encourage you to take a break from this review to read it, then return.

I mentioned recently in my review of The Last Descent that making a disaster film can be a tricky prospect. Unfortunately The Last Descent is an example of a movie that literally does everything wrong. On the contrary, Deepwater Horizon is a movie that manages to get everything right. I won't do a comparison and contrasting of the two films. If you want to read that review, you can check it and do that comparison yourself. As far as Deepwater Horizon goes, the first thing that I will mention is that this is a movie that properly builds tension. You go in knowing that there is going to be an explosion on the oil rig because, well, you lived life in 2010. Or you watched a trailer. Or you looked up the premise of the movie before buying a ticket. Either way there's definitely no surprises in this film and the film is very self-aware of that. If you are somehow the one person on the planet that had no idea what was going to happen before sitting down in the theater, you will quickly learn as there's brilliant foreshadowing like the scene from the teaser trailer where the daughter is teaching her parents with a Coke can what her dad does for work as practice for her presentation to her class and the Coke can explodes. Then while everyone is casually at work, we as an audience get shown shots in the water of the tension building up that leads to our explosions.

As we are sitting there watching, we are just waiting to get punched in the gut. Peter Berg successfully takes the audience on a meticulously planned journey through the day that plays with their emotions. You know this thing is going to blow up. You know people are going to get hurt. You know people are probably going to die. But the characters in the movie have no idea and you just want to scream at them to get out and get to safety. But you are absolutely helpless and you just have to sit there and watch them walk to their doom. This is an emotionally taxing, depressing film. And that's before the explosion happens. After successfully building tension through the first part of the movie, keeping the audience at the edge of their seat the entire time, it finally happens at the absolute perfect moment in the film's arc. KABOOM!!! And dang does this movie successfully knock you over the head emotionally like a ton of bricks. And here I give my warning. This movie is insane. It's graphic. It's violent. It's intense. Peter Berg's goal in this movie is to take you into the heart of this accident and make you as an audience understand what these people went through as many of them honestly had the fear that they were never going to get to see their family and friends ever again. And some of them didn't. Thus this movie is definitely not for the faint of heart.

In fact, here's a little discussion on this thing called the MPAA. Walking out of this movie I was absolutely shocked that this wasn't rated R. In fact, I had to go double check online to verify the rating. I don't know how this got away with a PG-13, but it probably should've been R with how graphic and intense it is. I of course don't mean that in a negative way. I'm just saying in an objective way that if you have a hard time watching movies that are super graphic and intense and you think the line of what you can and can't handle is drawn at the line between PG-13 and R, well then you might be unpleasantly surprised with your experience in this movie because it's a difficult watch at times. But in my opinion this gives the movie the exact emotional punch that it needed to give in order to make a serious impact. This is a movie that you're going to remember long after you watch much like Peter Berg's previous movie in this trilogy of sorts in Lone Survivor. Remember how it felt watching the Navy SEALs in that movie jump off their next cliff in order to get to safety? That's exactly what you get here. And you come away with the same level of reverence and respect for what these people went through as you do in Lone Survivor.

On top of all this, the technical aspects of this movie are also spot on. I'm talking about the cinematic elements of the making of this film. The visual effects were phenomenal. The editing was flawless. The cinematography was gorgeous. The camera work was perfect. The score in the movie was amazing. If this doesn't come away with a handful of Oscar nominations in January, I might be upset. In fact, speaking of Oscar nominations, one man that definitely deserves an Oscar nomination following this film is the man they call Marky Mark. Mark Wahlberg. Like seriously, he delivers the performance of his career in this movie. He nails the emotion. He nails his character. You come away with the honest feeling that the man he plays, Mike Williams, was a true American hero with how he put his life on the line to help others, which is a feat Wahlberg pulled off with his performance in Lone Survivor as well. There's still a lot of Oscar contenders to come out this year, so I don't know yet if I will be upset at a Wahlberg snub, especially since he will be going up against himself with Patriots Day, but after the Academy ignored his work in Lone Survivor, it would be upsetting if they also ignored this.

Overall, Deepwater Horizon is a really intense, emotional look into the disaster that we all heard about, but perhaps may not have realized how horrific it really was for the people that were caught in it. The setup for the movie is perfect. The movie carefully and meticulously builds tension up to the point where the explosion happens and you want to yell at people to get to safety, but you end up helplessly stranded in the theater watching them. Then when the explosion happens and the movie delivers a strong emotional punch. This is certainly not for everyone as it gets very graphic and violent at times, making it a more difficult watch, but if you enjoyed Lone Survivor, then this is a movie that you need to watch. With two home runs for director Peter Berg, I am now even more excited for Patriots Day, which will be released to the public in December. The Boston Marathon bombing is something that is very fresh on my mind. I remember sitting in front of the TV all day listening for updates on CNN, so I'm curious to see what they bring to the table with that movie. After a lot of disappointments this year, Deepwater Horizon is a breath of fresh air as it's one of the better movies to be released this year. I'm going to give it a 9/10.

No comments:

Post a Comment