It's directed by action film man Peter Berg, whose resume includes The Rundown, Friday Night Lights, Hancock, Battleship, Lone Survivor. He tends to direct action flicks with pretty decent stories.
In April of 2010 this oil drilling rig is scheduled to begin drilling on behalf of BP. But as the crew arrives to get things going, the Chief Electronics Technician and Offshore Installation Manager learn that the the testers who were looking at the integrity of the cement base were actually sent home early, not being able to actually test the integrity of the cement. A test is conducted before operations are started up, but this test results in actually weaken the sick cement. But being off schedule by 40+ days, an oil company exec orders that drilling commence.
From there, the cement fails, causing a shit storm of cascading equipment failures, one thing leads to another, and it all comes down to survival of a rig disaster.
The film starts out with the viewer hearing court testimony about this human and natural disaster, but evolves into the morning that the crews are at home, getting ready to leave for their stint on the Deepwater Horizon.
We're privy to their overall concerns, watch meetings with oil company execs who are apprised of how many problems there are with the rig, but money being the bottom line, pushes the wrong decisions to be made by the money.
The irony of the film is when the rig boss gets a safety award at the end of act one of the film.
Throughout the opening, we're privy to and learn how a drilling rig works, while we learn about other things, like there are over 300 different components that need repairing.
One of the best life quotes I've ever seen in a movie is when Mike Williams (Wahlberg) tells the BP exec that "Hope ain't a tactic."
This film really puts it out there, demonstrating that when shortcuts are taken, the massive failures that can come from it. It is a tense film that does a wonderful job paying tribute to the poor souls that lost their lives and the men and women that worked hard to save lives.
Unlike most action-based films, the hero isn't kicking ass, but rather, orchestrating an exit from a monumental disaster that resulted in the death of 11 crew members, a two-day fire, and the sinking of an oil rig that resulted in the largest oil spill in U.S. waters,
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is also referred to as the BP oil spill, is estimated to have spilled 210 million US gallons. The rig blew in April of 2010 and it took them until September to seal the well that the rig was attached to. According to reports in 2012, despite the 'seal,' the plug was still leaking.
Throughout the film, we see so many moments where people don't take the right actions, where employees are afraid to make the right call because they don't have the authorization, and what not.
It's sad and riveting all at once to watch. But riveting none-the-less. We watch heroism and stupidity result in death. We watch when good decisions are made so late that they are useless decisions when they are made.
We even see when human panic results in life boats leaving people behind.
All the while, we watch Mike Williams' wife (Hudson) watch from home as the news about the disaster barely touches on exactly what is happening, and we get a taste of how horrifying it can be for family members at home, not knowing.
What we may not get is that all families worry about their family who work on rigs, both land and sea-based, considering that there are roughly 25 deaths per 100,000 workers, which really results in 108 deaths a year. (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6420a4.htm)
Berg does a wonderful job spelling out all facets of this disaster while Wahlberg and others truly deliver. It's wonderful to watch Malkovich, Rodriguez and others be in roles that are outside the norm of what we expect from them and their usual action roles.
And Trace Adkins has more of a late role, playing a freaked out parent looking for his son from the rig, so don't look for him too hard, but when he appears, he's hard to miss.
If you get deep enough in the film, there's a powerful set of moments when Williams breaks down and then gets reunited with his wife and daughter.
We see that in the end, this entire crew is a huge family who now has to suffer the loss of 11 team members.
The film ends with snippets of the hearing about the disaster, seeing stills of the actual workers who passed. The BP execs were brought up on charges of manslaugther, but the charges were dropped in 2015. Oil money at work I guess.
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