The British Petroleum oil rig disaster which occurred over the course of April 20 to 22, 2010 off the coast of Louisiana is the subject of Mark Wahlberg’s latest disaster flick. I remember watching news coverage of this incident with equal parts fascination and horror as it unfolded, the worst man‑made environmental disaster in US history surpassing even the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill. A tragedy of epic proportions, 11 lives were lost and an estimated five million barrels of oil were spilled into the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico by the time the blowout was finally contained nearly three months later.
‘Deepwater Horizon’ is told through the eyes of three key participants. Wahlberg plays Mike Williams, an electronic technician caught in the maelstrom during that fateful night of April 20, as the shit hits the proverbial fan despite earlier assurances from a BP exec (John Malkovich) that there was nothing to worry about. Tragedies often beget ironies, and in DH it was his boss and rig supervisor Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) being given a safety award mere hours before the explosion. The other key player in the film is Gina Rodriguez’s Andrea Fleytas, a rig pilot working in what is essentially a man’s world.
Director Peter Berg crafted a near perfect disaster movie, imparting DH with the immediacy, chaos and sense of impending doom that are at once riveting and yet deeply human. As he was in ‘The Perfect Storm,’ Wahlberg is solid once again as the main protagonist, the eye of the storm in the midst of all the confusion and chaos. Exciting, compelling and utterly tragic, DH is worth a look not only for disaster movie aficionados but also anyone who’s interested in this dark chapter of American environmental history.
You might say he's seen better days...