** ½ out of four
On April 20, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico, the offshore drilling rig, the Deepwater Horizon, exploded, killing 11 crewmen and starting the worst oil spill in U.S. history. The movie Deepwater Horizon, which was shot in Chalmette, Louisiana, is well made and, for the most part, is respectful of the real life tragedy on which it is based. Yet there is something fundamentally hollow about it.
In general, movies have a three act structure and Deepwater Horizon seems to be missing one. Act One is the build up to the accident with installation manager Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell as good as ever) and chief electronics technician Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) both trying to convince British Petroleum company man Donald Vidrine (a flamboyant John Malkovich) that a catastrophe is imminent due to the company's cost-cutting measures.
Act Two is the explosion of the rig and the rescue, all of which happens very quickly. Then, there is a brief epilogue on the aftermath. The End. More little details could have helped the film. Why not show more of the Coast Guard's search and rescue?
We see Williams break down after his rescue, and we see a father's anger and grief over his missing son. These are strong moments. Give us more of the emotional after effects. And what about the investigation into the accident? It's clear that the filmmakers wanted to position the rig explosion at the end, so it will be the big action finale, but the most interesting part of this story is why the rig exploded.
Now, director Peter Berg does create some intense and harrowing action scenes here, but the movie isn't all it should have been, which is a powerhouse drama about the tragic loss of life and a devastating environmental disaster because of corporate greed.