Deepwater Horizon

Based on the incredible true story of what is commonly referred to as the BP oil spill, Deepwater Horizon follows the largely untold story of the workers on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig who fought for their lives after a devastating blowout on April 20, 2010. It is directed by Peter Berg who is known for the 2013 true story war film Lone Survivor, which also starred Mark Wahlberg as the main hero. The first part of the film follows what happened before the disaster, predominantly from the perspective of Wahlberg’s real character Mike Williams who was the Chief Electronics Technician on Deepwater Horizon. The viewer gets a glimpse of his personal life, particularly his relationship with his daughter and wife played by Kate Hudson. What fascinated me the most was the actual details of what it’s like to live and work on a massive rig 5,000 feet above the sea floor and 52 miles off the Louisiana coast. It also provided important context: I never before realized that Deepwater Horizon was not actually an oil rig but was rather used to explore and drill the holes for more permanent oil rigs. Unlike other rigs, it was essentially a boat that had thrusters allowing it to float in a stationary position on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. The film delves into the technical aspects of offshore drilling and the safety apparatuses used to prevent the buildup of pressure that ultimately caused the accident. As depicted in the film, BP who leased the rid and was represented by two of its visiting executives and a supervisor, played by John Malkovich, attempted to cut corners on safety to speed up on beginning the extraction of an estimated 200 million gallons of oil a year. To no avail, several workers for Transocean, the operator of Deepwater Horizon, and Offshore Installation Manager Jimmy Harrell, portrayed by Kurt Russell, warned that the concrete supporting the newly drilled hole could be insufficient. The rest of the story becomes more of an action thriller after the safety mechanisms fail and explosions engulf the entire rig in an inferno. The filmmaker vividly recreates the disaster in such great detail that the viewer is left on the edge of their seats despite knowing the outcome. It shows the heroics of the workers, particularly Mark Wahlberg’s character, as they try to save as many fellow workers as possible and prevent an ecological calamity. As poignantly described by the actual survivors in the film’s epilogue, the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe ended up being the worst oil disaster in American history, with 11 deaths and 200 million gallons spilled over the course of 87 days. Overall, I found the film to be well worth seeing due to its technical insight and exhilarating action sequences captivating the heroics of everyday workers at a time of peril.

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