Movie Review – ‘Deepwater Horizon’

The most unnerving and nail-biting film I’ve experienced since a handful of U.S. Navy SEALs fought their way down an Afghan mountainside in Berg’s 2013 “Lone Survivor”. 

– Patrick King, REEL BRIEF


In director Peter Berg’s most heart-racing and entertaining motion picture of his career, moviegoers find themselves center stage in the true life oil rig disaster forty-one miles offshore the Louisiana coast back in 2010.  More than just an action-thriller, this film is an intense behind-the-scenes story about modern-day explorers and their fascinating lifestyle; searching and drilling miles below the ocean surface for precious oil in profitable, but, dangerous waters.

“Deepwater Horizon” scores a film trifecta…a sensational cast and a sharply written script are captured by amazing cinematography and its use of special effects.  Between the intense drilling, gushing explosions and pressure system blowouts, viewers will find it impossible to sit still in their seats.  This movie is the most unnerving and nail-biting film I’ve experienced since a handful of U.S. Navy SEALs fought their way down an Afghan mountainside in Berg’s 2013 “Lone Survivor”.

Using highly effective background information on the offshore drilling business and riveting decision-making developments, Berg masterfully establishes overwhelming suspense and lurking danger without ever hitting slow or meaningless scenes. At a blistering pace, “Deepwater Horizon” introduces us to few main characters, instead keenly focusing on the movie’s main attraction – the free-floating oil rig and all her moving parts.


Aside from Peter Berg’s penchant for pending catastrophe or dire odds, he gets brilliant stand-alone performances by Mark Wahlberg and Kurt Russell.  The stellar pair champion an authenticity and believability to this big-screen juggernaut. Through each of the safety checks and deceptive BP oil shenanigans, viewers wince at every valve turned and pressure gauge reading.  It’s Wahlberg and Russell, though, that humanize the worst oil spill in American history.

The film’s overarching success is found in its crisp storytelling.  A jargon-filled script is never dumbed-down to us…the oil drilling novices attempting to get our sea legs in an hour and thirty-nine minutes. Rather, “Deepwater Horizon” uses superbly timed subtitles and a supporting cast oozing Cajun charm to explain drilling exploration.  We may not know the names of all 126 crew members fighting for their lives, but we can easily separate the decisive from the indecisive, the heroic from the callous.


Berg’s latest gem sets the watermark for how action-thrillers should be made.  A fitting tribute to the actual crew members from the Deepwater Horizon and all that they endured six years ago.

Likewise, “Deepwater Horizon” deserves to be in the Oscar conversation come January.  Strong personalities and performances from Wahlberg and Russell, may garner end-of-the-year acting awards for both.  And for a man who once was known solely as the model and rapper Marky Mark, it would be Wahlberg’s second Academy Award nomination for his acting.

Grade: A

“Deepwater Horizon” is rated PG-13 for prolonged intense disaster sequences and related disturbing images, and brief strong language.  Its running time is 1 hour and 39 minutes.

© 2016, Patrick. All rights reserved.

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