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Title: Deepwater Horizon

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :5stars:
Extras: :2.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:86

It seems that movies about historical tragedies are all the rave right about now. We’ve had “Lone Survivor”, “Sully”, and soon to be a movie about the Boston Marathon bombings from 2013 (also directed by Peter Berg I might add). Peter Berg has actually helmed a good many of them recently and I have to say that I like his efforts. When he’s allowed creative process, and has a passion for the source material they turn out fantastic (Like “Lone Survivor”), while others are a bit weaker (although not un fun either). “Deepwater Horizon” is another in this long list about disasters that have happened in the last decade, this time harkening back to the all famous 2010 oil spill that happened in the Gulf. An oil spill that was caused by greed, misuse of equipment and became one of the most highly publicized and highly damaging oil spills in all of U.S. history.

Peter Berg is one of those directors where he makes something completely amazing or just total fluff. For every “Lone Survivor”, “Collateral” and “Friday Night Lights”, there are about as many “Hancock”, “Battleship” and “The Rundown” efforts to counterbalance that greatness. Not to say that those movies aren’t enjoyable, but certainly not up to the epic standards that Berg has reached in the past. “Deepwater Horizon” is actually one of the first movies of his where I felt it swung directly in the center of that pendulum swing. It’s as if Berg went through the motions of making an epic film but forgot to put in that same passion and enthusiasm that he did with “Lone Survivor” (another true to life tragic event that was one of my favorite war movies of the last few years). “Deewater” is still a solid disaster flick, but like I said. There’s just this spark of epicness missing from the picture.

Our main “link” to the crew of the famed Deepwater Horizon drilling station out in the Gulf is one Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), a master electrician for the station. He and the rest of the crew are heading in a for another stint back on duty (an oil worker’s life is basically on duty for several months, off for a few, one for a few, off for a few) and he’s kind of spooked due to a dream. He says “Bye Felicia” to his wife Felicia (Kate Hudson… and before you all start groaning about me putting a “Bye Felicia” joke into this writeup you have to realize. They just soft balled it for us!”), and heads out to live on the edge of danger. When he and his boss Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) arrive on the rig they discover that several safety measure checks have not been done in an effort to save time by the melodramatically evil BP oil administrators (with John Malkovich playing a decidedly villainous evil executive who just wants money money money and nothing else). Refusing to move another inch before a safety check is performed, Jimmy and Mike FORCE those safety checks to proceed before they’ll risk the lives of the crew.

The thing is, the final safety check comes back clean, but only because of a catastrophic failure in the oil line. Against his better judgement, Jimmy agrees to let the drilling commence. As we all know, shortly after drilling commences the unthinkable happens. The oil pipe over pressurizes and causes a blow out of epic proportions, lighting the entire station into a giant fireball. Every safety measure taken fails and even sealing the pipe line becomes a lost cause. With this complete and utterly devastating fact in their minds eye, the crew of the Deepwater Horizon does the only thing they can possibly do. Abandon ship and hope that they all make it off alive.

I can’t remember EVERYTHING about my research into the famed BP oil spill 6 years ago, but from what I can tell and from what everyone else is saying the movie is surprisingly accurate. There’s not a whole lot of liberties taken with the actual events (besides some of the dialog) and it sticks pretty closely to what actually happened. Now the one thing that they ALWAYS do in the movies like this is villainize someone. In this case it was John Malkovich and the rest of the executives at BP oil. Now don’t get me wrong. BP Oil was most CERTAINLY to blame for this disaster. They created a corporate environment of greed and lackadaisical safety measures in the never-ending search for more money. They were charged with manslaughter for the deaths on the rig (which they sadly weaseled out of in 2015) and lost 4 Billion dollars in fees and costly legal services for an oil spill that lasted over THREE MONTHS! The only thing that they kind of tweaked here in the film is the villainization of the actual executives like John Malkovich’s Mr. Vidrine. They make him like your typical mustache twirling maniac who puts everyone’s life on the line with a cheery smile and a snide laugh. By all accounts the men in charge were very amiable and likeable fellows. Just people who let greed and a corporate desire to more and more get in their way of making clear judgements. I guess it’s one of those things where you need some ONE to hate in the film. Someone to look at and act as a clear focus for the anger and frustration for the events that went on, and it’s hard to do so when you kind of like the person.

It's interesting to note that “Deepwater Horizon” doesn’t have your typical 3 act structure. Usually most films follow the classic 1, 2 and 3 act structure with an opening, a middle act and your finale or wrap-up act to wind it down. “Deepwater” instead has a single 40-minute-long exposition act where we get to meet Mike, Jimmy, Vidrine and the rest of the crew interacting and dialoging. This was the weakest part of the movie for me as the banter felt a little forced and it was kind of a boring setup from the get go. However, the movie decides to forgo a 3rd act in the film by making the final hour one long act that is nothing but a whirlwind of destruction and mayhem aboard the oil rig. The second that pipe bursts in the drilling room the alarms, the destruction and the tears don’t stop until the credits are just about to roll and the men and women are safely back home. THIS is where all the goodies in the film are. “Deepwater Horizon” is not as technically gifted or as emotionally pulling as something like “Lone Survivor”, but it makes up for it with the massive scale destruction and intensity that follows that slightly mediocre first half. I can’t say that I would rank it up there with the greatest of Berg’s works with that in mind, but it certainly is a fun movie that is helmed by a great cast of actors.


Rated PG-13 for prolonged intense disaster sequences and related disturbing images

Video :4.5stars:
Shot on Arri Alexa equipment and transferred to a 2K DI (which again, is slightly surprising considering the two Alexa cameras used had 3.4k and 6.5k source and the film has a 4K UltraHD version as well which I was not able to review), “Deepwater Horizon” is a stunning looking image. Demo worthy in fact. The only reason that I’m giving it a 4.5/5 instead of a 5/5 rating was because there is some rather nasty banding that occurs during the beginning of the movie and about 30 minutes in that take place under murky water. Besides that little issue the rest of the movie is just about flawless. Facial detail is incredible, showing off every little bit oil and debris on the exhausted oil workers faces. Little clothing wrinkles that show up in the flickering light of the flames and Kurt Russell’s craggy face and leathery old body is replicated with pinpoint precision (you’ll have to watch the movie to see what scene I’m talking about). Blacks are deep and inky, and while there’s some very very mild banding in the night sky it is nowhere near as bad as the underwater shots. Colors are fairly neutral, but I noticed a slight ruddy push to the facial complexions in the shooting. Still, a fantastic looking movie and a great looking 1080p disc.

Audio :5stars:
Given a nice tasty Dolby Atmos track, “Deepwater Horizon” is just a killer track, there’s no way around it. The intensity and throbbing energy starts from the minute the movie begins and just keeps getting more and more wild as the movie goes on. Even though the first 40 minutes is fairly dialog heavy, the powerful rotors of the copters flying the crew out and the rumbling and roaring of the massive oil rig floating out in the Gulf just allow for a bassline that keeps you pant legs flapping and a sense of immersion that is second to none. One the disaster actually HITS then the gloves are off. It’s one wild crazy ride that is being ridden on a horse made out of LFE and reigns out of the surrounds and overheads. Every single speaker is active throughout the mayhem, with rushing oil fueled flames crackling in the overheads and all around, while the creaking of beams and the lapping of ocean waves float in under the sonic assault of the move aggressive items in the film. Dialog is strong and clear, with the only “flaw” being that the heavy southern accents sometimes make it just a LITTLE bit hard to understand for a western U.S. person like myself. Still, no fault of the movie and the mix is second to none. Amazing audio track that’s for sure and one of the most intense audio experiences in recent history.

Extras :2.5stars:

• "Beyond the Horizon" Hour-Long Five-Part Series
• "Captain of the Rig: Peter Berg" Featurette
• "The Fury of the Rig" Featurette
• "Deepwater Surveillance" Featurette
• "Work Like An American" Tributes

Overall: :4stars:

“Deepwater Horizon” is not one of Peter Berg’s best films. It doesn’t rival his best works like “Lone Survivor” or “Friday Night Lights”, but this is not “Battleship” or “Hancock” by a good margin. The first 1/3 of the movie is a bit talky and the banter doesn’t always work, but once the actual accident occurs it’s a nonstop adrenaline rush until the credits roll after a heart wrenching ending. Is it a great movie? Nah, I don’t think so, but it’s certainly a fun adventure flick with all the earmarks of Peter Berg’s exquisite editing and storytelling techniques. Audio and video for this Blu-ray are simply superb (sadly I wasn’t able to review the 4K release at this time) and the extras are rather interesting (albeit a little short). Definitely worth a watch at the least.

Additional Information:

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Gina Rodriguez, John Malkovich, Kurt Russell
Directed by: Peter Berg
Written by: Matthew Sand, Matthew Michael Carnahan
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), Spanish DD 5.1, English DD 2.0 (Night Listening)
Studio: Lionsgate/Summit
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 107 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: December 10th 2017

Buy Deepwater Horizon On 4K Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Deepwater Horizon On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Good Watch

More about Mike

2,072 Posts
Thanks for the review. I remember this spill and all the devastation that it caused in the gulf. I am happy to hear that the movie is very accurate as to what happens. As with any film, there is always tendency for a spin toward one direction or another but since this one is mostly on the truth side, I will check it out as a rental.

Premium Member
4,363 Posts
Thanks for the review Mike. I'm looking forward to this one and plan on adding it to the 4K library.

Premium Member
4,363 Posts
Picked up the 4K version and watched it Wednesday night. Very good movie and top notch Atmos track. Some of the best implementation of object based audio.

Premium Member
5,817 Posts
Thanks for the review, Mike...received my 4K version yesterday. :)
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