Film Review: ‘Deepwater Horizon’ Shows Fury and Technique from Director Peter Berg

deepwater horizon

deepwater-horizon-poster-356x550Real stories about tragic events have the advantage of being harrowing without much effort because the accounts of the truth do much of the job for them. It takes a distinct type of filmmaker to raise the film above the standard. While director Peter Berg doesn’t completely connect the dots, he promotes a tale of responsibility that will antagonize the wrath inside of all of us. “Deepwater Horizon” rallies emotion in the wake of truth.

“Deepwater Horizon” tells the tragic true story of the oil driller that due to negligence and fault of the BP Oil Company, created the worst oil spill in history.

Mark Wahlberg is an actor I’ve tended to be harder on than most lately with his choice of roles. Here he puts forth a genuine, heartfelt portrayal. Always placing himself in the “hero” position, he manages to tap into a delicate enactment of a man desperate to survive. He gets to show off a new accent that isn’t south Boston, while digging deep to show real emotion. It’s his best performance since “The Fighter.”

The film boasts an all-star cast, some of which are doing adequate work. As the ship’s captain, Kurt Russell continues to explore lively, vigorous roles in his later career. John Malkovich does all but twirl his mustache as the corrupt and pushy executive. Gina Rodriguez steps out of her “Jane the Virgin” motif to investigate a new, compassionate character and achieves a noble offering. Oscar nominee Kate Hudson plays the famed “woman on phone,” but in some cases, just “woman on Skype.”

deepwater-horizon-peter-berg-550x367Berg’s direction has been problematic on bigger blockbusters like “Battleship,” but with penetrating and vital material he gets to show the world what he can truly attain. Arguably not as emotionally resourceful as “Lone Survivor,” it is perhaps cleaner in its assimilation of story and filmmaking technique. He runs the bases with his editing and sound team. They pulsate tension like there is an unlimited supply. Ingesting the central concept will undoubtedly infuriate the viewer as we’re shown another key example of money corrupting our beloved Mother Earth. It provokes a sense of a revolution within yourself in exchange for liberating your own customary ideals of the standard “based on a true story” movie. It just presents the facts, and not much else.

Deepwater Horizon” has heart. It has passion. It has a willingness to take the viewer into the dark and terrifying scene of that fateful day. With a more comprehensive script or more deeply natured approach in the future, Berg may be able to create his masterpiece, whatever that may end up being.

“Deepwater Horizon” is distributed by Lionsgate and is currently in theaters.

GRADE: (★★★)