I’d watched Deepwater Horizon on a blurry streaming site last night, as I refuse to extortionate ticket prices to see Hollywood blockbusters, and which I know are probably not very good – however, I have a soft for exploding objects and films of mass destruction, and admittedly Peter Berg is an ‘okay’ director like Ron Howard, plus if Kurt Russell, Malkovich and Wahlberg (three of the most versatile and tacky A-list actors I can think of besides Samuel L Jackson and Steve Buscemi) appear in a film together some ‘serious shit’ is destined to go down.
Can’t say it wasn’t anything I hadn’t expected – infact, the entire film feels like a homage to classic disaster films of the seventies, Towering Inferno (1974) and Earthquake (1974) – both deserve a rewatch – and even more obviously, the almost identical, 2000’s The Perfect Storm directed by Wolfgang Peterson (Das Boot, In the Line of Fire, Airforce One, Neverending Story), which like Peterson’s remake of the other classic sea-liner disaster film The Poseidon Adventure (1971) had also starred Kurt Russell and contained a lot of pyrotechnics. Weirdly, since Wahlberg had starred in both Perfect Storm and Deepwater Horizon, both of which are adapted from novels that detail the real-life events, it almost feels like the latter could be a sequel – although, unlike DH, I’d felt the integrity and authenticity of PS was compromised since none of the characters portrayed in the film survived to recount their experience, thus making the entire story fictitious despite the ‘based on a true story’ tag.
Despite the lapse in pixel quality and the diminished screen size of watching DH on my laptop, like most big Hollywood CGI films, I don’t feel my viewing pleasure was greatly impaired or that it effected my enjoyment of the plot (lol!). The ‘plot’, like the similar San Andreas (2015); Peterson’s PS and Poseidon (2006); Michael Bay’s Armageddon (1998); Volcano (1997) and Dante’s Peak (1997); basically consists of a mixed group of workers, friends or scientists, trapped somewhere for some reason trying to survive something dangerous that is happening to them.
Just like those other films, most particularly PS, DH has a rookie-ish, but not so young hero, Wahlberg, working with a group of people, one of whom is older and seen it all before, Kurt Russell, trying to get back to wife and kid, Kate Hudson. The hero and his mentor butt heads with the despicably condescending and manipulative John Malkovich (who else right? But could’ve just as easily have been played by Michael Gambon, Anthony Hopkins or some other typecast baddie), although his Elma Fudd accent render his performance both laughable and less believable as a corporate CEO for BP oil, even if that is what the real person was like in reality.
Although the film was extremely formulaic, this is not what the film is about, as with PS or Ron Howard’s Backdraft (1991), the film is all about the huge scenes of devastation and its lead-up to the climax, and these would most definitely be worth watching in 3D for £12 pounds (probably, if you have nothing better to do).
Unlike San Andreas or Armageddon, DH carefully paces the thrills and spills, first starting with Elma Fudd explaining to the crew and audience using a funny stick drawing of chimney, the potential threat of pressure build-up in the pipeline (although this isn’t nearly as funny as watching Malkovich describing an analogy of a greasy train to Wahlberg, who manages to keep a straight face).
Actor turned director Peter Berg has made some fairly decent films, and, like Ron Howard or Tony Scott, seems like a true-blue action movie guy, who is as much interested in telling a good story as he is delivering car chases and explosions to satisfy the studios and sell tickets. Oddly, one of my favourite crime films has been John Dahl’s low budget thriller The Last Seduction (1994), in which he’d played a dim-witted fallguy in femme fatale murder plot. His claustrophobic sports drama Friday Night Lights (2004), a grim true-life film about college football set in Texas during 1980s, was one of the most powerful films about small-town America I’d watched in a long time.
I didn’t never finished watching of Lone Survivor (2013), another true-life action/war film about Navy Seals caught behind enemy lines in Afghanistan. The similarly themed political action thriller, The Kingdom (2007), about special forces investigating terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, also had some great action and an interesting premise, and yet I can hardly recall a single thing about the film.