When you look at the trailer of Mark Wahlberg‘s new movie – for the fans of Kurt Russell it’s Kurt Russell’s new movie – you might think you’ll get Hollywood’s latest disaster blockbuster. The trailer was probably stuffed with the best scenes, so as to draw in as many people as possible. This time the reason behind it isn’t just money. It’s also to pay respect to the very people who died back in April 2010.
Because guess what? Deepwater horizon is a movie based on real events. It’s not something a money-hungry producer came up with when checking his balance, only to realize he’s not nearly making enough money to support his three children (this is all hearsay just to make a point, I have no idea how many children the producer of this movie has).
Truth of the matter is simple: Deepwater horizon is a real-life disaster causing the single biggest oil leakage in U.S. history. In other words, it’s life imitating art …
Because let’s face it! Events like the one you’ll see in this movie rarely do happen in real life.
This is more something you’d expect in some heroic Bruce Willis-movie (he actually did play a character once working on an oil rig – remember Armageddon?). Unlike the Michael Bay movie, Deepwater horizon isn’t some clean, flashy action movie where the good guys are victorious and all ends well.
No, this movie is much like life itself. It’s like an old painting illuminating all the horror and pain. It’s dirty. It’s dark, chaotic and full of panicky screams of grown men who find themselves trapped in claustrophobic little spaces. This is not a disaster movie. This is a throat-clenching drama of real events …
To make things more commercial, rather than risk turning this movie into some docu-drama, a few familiar faces were called in to help sell this amazing story.
There is beloved action beefcake Mark Wahlberg who adds yet another good movie to his resume. Unlike some other actors working in the action genre – the kind who often play clean and straightforward roles (Tom Cruise comes to mind) – Mark Wahlberg ‘gets’ the raw emotion brewing behind the action … and plays his character with a captivating fragility.
As mentioned before, he isn’t the only familiar face on set.
Kurt Russell joins the lot as Mr. Jimmy, the guy in charge of the working men, that is until he has to deal with a couple of pencil-pushers who are more interested in what the oil rig profits than the safety of the men’s lives. Much like Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell is quite familiar in tight, expensive blockbusting movies and his presence enriches the cast a great deal.
Less likely to be loved, but all the more reason for us to admire his performance, is actor John Malkovich who plays one of the billion-dollar faces of the company (BP as in British Petroleum). He’s not necessarily a bad man, just a man who rather keeps his eye on the schedule at hand than what’s really out there on the rig.
Last but – oh my dear Lord! – certainly not least is the wife of Mark Wahlberg beautifully played by the ever-graceful Kate Hudson. Her scenes with Mark Wahlberg are some of the best moments the movie has to offer. It adds charisma to both characters, which pays off in the end when things turn really emotional.
So why is this movie only pretty good? Why isn’t this a masterpiece? Or a blown-out super-awesome blockbuster?
Because of Peter Berg. He’s the director and the instant cause why this movie – especially in the second part when all things go boom! – sometimes fails to deliver the good punch.
Don’t get me wrong, Deepwater horizon is a movie you gotta go see on the big screen! The way the oil rig is presented is so beautifully done … you’d have to see it to believe it!
But because director Peter Berg chose to make things raw and realistic, there are plentiful of scenes that are so chaotically filmed that you often can’t make out what’s happening.
And this blurry vision caused by a continuously shaky camera with in-your-face explosions against the dark background of the night whilst dozens of men are running from the left to the right … well … a better director would’ve captured the essence of the chaos, but remember that the audience still has to follow what occurs on screen.
In other words, once the rig explodes (and explodes again and again and again!) the firestorm may indeed be awesome and beautifully orchestrated, but the camera positions are often – too often! – very poorly executed.
And because the action is so mundane you’ll experience a faint loss of interest. Fact is that the most interesting parts of the movie are the introduction of the major players on the oil rig, and the building of the suspense once things starts to go wrong.
Peter Berg is a more than descent drama director. But he should’ve taken a few lessons from, say, Ron Howard – here’s a director who mixes drama and action like the palm of his hand.
And that’s why Deepwater horizon is a good drama … but merely an ok action movie.
did you know?
An oil rig was built just for this film, this rig is located in Chalmette, Louisiana where filming mostly took place. It has been coined as the largest set piece ever built.
Give it to me short:
Deepwater horizon has all the signs of a fictitious disaster movie, but it’s so much more. It’s in fact a retelling of the horrendous true story of an oil rig breaking apart due to an unforeseen pressure of mud, gas leaks and the insuppressible fire blast explosions that follow. The chaos is the result of a human factor, no doubt about it, and the movie doesn’t shy away from showing the faulty decisions that were made that night in April 2010.
Also interesting is how the movie ‘knows’ how little people know about an oil rig, and at the start of the movie you’ll get a quick on-the-fly lesson in some of the practical terms and everyday safety measures.
Actors Mark Wahlberg and Kurt Russell shine as the local heroes, Kate Hudson does so much more with her role than simply playing the worried wife (kudos to her!) and the fatalist who causes – at least partially – the impending doom is John Malkovich – you’ll love to hate him.
The one big flaw Deepwater horizon is showing – like cracks in the script – is the filming of the chaos. Often impressively brought to life by either CGI or real-life explosions, the poor camera positions make the whole experience too blurry to enjoy – not to mention the shaky camera that becomes quickly annoying. It’s a real pity, because the action set pieces are some of the most awe-inspiring made this year alone.
Filming chaos is one thing. Filming chaos in such a way the audience can truly enjoy it is quite something else …