Deepwater Horizon Review: A Powerful Docbuster

A new trend of films which has already been given the name ‘docbusters’ has seen a lot of output in the last few weeks. Such movies as Snowden, Sully, and War Dogs react stories from recent headlines and turn them into films. Here we have another real-life reboot with Deepwater Horizon. Deepwater Horizon is a new release which goes into the days leading to the worst oil spill in US history also known as the BP oil spill.


Deepwater Horizon focuses its film on three characters Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell), and Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez). These characters prepare themselves for a supposed three-week job on the drilling rig named the Deepwater Horizon. There is a lot of foreshadowing in the early stages of this film. Even if you already know the story, you know something really bad is about to happen because of the ominous tone the characters speak in and the general feeling of something being off. When our characters show up on the rig, they notice the safety team is leaving earlier than expected. This is because the corporate leaders at BP, who might as well be members of the Legion of Doom, have sent them home without testing the safety of the rig because they want to make a massive haul in oil without any delays. They decide that they will run a test on the safety of the rig. The first test fails mighty and should have been the end of their day. However, the George Wallace of southern meanie bosses at BP (John Malkovich) decides to run an inaccurate test to get the result he wants and that’s where all hell breaks loose.

Needless to say, the people of BP will not be happy about their portrayal in the film. They are depicted as grossly negligent, incompetent, and surprise…they only care about profits. I’m not defending anyone from BP knowing the real story but the clowns in this film might as well be Batman villains instead of real people. The film’s dialogue is about 75% drilling jargon which is hard for anyone to follow if you are not from that industry.  The ending is tense and heart-wrenching but it goes to show you the difficulty of what these men and women went through to survive this horrific ordeal.


The questions are going to begin pretty quickly whether it’s in bad taste for Hollywood to be making money off these real-life stories of tragedy. The answer is subjective to the viewer but I don’t feel like that’s the case with this film. 126 people were on board on the Deepwater Horizon, 115 people were evacuated and 11 people were killed. The last 5 minutes of the film features testimony and an Im Memoriam to the real-life people who survived and were killed in the disaster. On a side note, I have to mention that NONE of the actors in this film look like their real-life counterparts at all, maybe a petty complaint but it’s almost laughable the differences between them at the end of the film.

Deepwater Horizon actually does an amazing job at relieving the real-life story of hours leading up to this disaster. Many of the real-life survivors worked on the film to give the most accurate portrayal of happened that spring day in 2010. The film has a lot of subtle humor to it in the first act to prevent the film from being a complete emotional drag on the audience. The acting is stellar, you can tell they really went the extra mile to make this film work and credit to them for putting in the effort.


If you are the type of person who hates corporate greed, well this is the film for you. Human Life < Profits is the selling point of the film and drives it home showing you how careless people can lead to such a great disaster. Deepwater Horizon is one of the most powerful films of the year and a must-see.


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