Thursday, 1 September 2016

DEEPWATER HORIZON - Review By Greg Klymkiw - TIFF 2016 - Corporate Evil Spills Oil

Deepwater Horizon (2016)
Dir. Peter Berg
Scr. Matthew Sand, Matthew Michael Carnahan
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Gina Rodriguez, Kate Hudson

Review By Greg Klymkiw

It's only a matter of time before any disaster, manmade or otherwise, becomes big screen entertainment and certainly the major oil rig disaster off the coast of Louisiana in 2010 offered up plenty of fodder for macho derring do, onscreen death and explosions. In the case of the "Deepwater Horizon" disaster, Hollywood heard the clarion call all too well and secured the services of the muscular helmsman Peter (Battleship) Berg to guide us through the glorious carnage which occurred when the BP company tried to cut corners on safety issues.

Without question, Deepwater Horizon is one of the best disaster movies of the new millennium. Based on the terrifying and sad events of this horrific calamity, we follow the events of that day as engineer Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) and rig supervisor Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) board the floating oil rig only to discover that the corporate scumbags, led by a deliciously smarmy John Malkovich (as the main BP filth Donald Vidrine), have by-passed protocol in order to save time and money.

It doesn't take too long before things go awry. Awry, however, is one thing - complete batshit crazy calamity is another and when the explosions begin, the picture's initial slow-burn ramps up into mega-overdrive. Men become men. Even the women become men. Gina Rodriguez as one of the riggers holds her own with the boys - she rebuilds cars as a hobby, so we know she's not your garden variety girlie-girl. (That said, and while this might indeed be true, it's finally Marky Mark who rescues her when she doesn't have the ultimate stuff to save herself.)

Berg handles the action and suspense with aplomb and his cast acquit themselves to the task of rescue, fortitude and sacrifice more-than ably. The early dialogue sequences involving the jousts between the manly men and the corporate hacks are especially stirring - they're rife with the usual cliches of such onscreen conflict, but the pace, coverage and urgency of the proceedings keep us engaged.

Of course, the movie makes us suffer through some insufferable family stuff early on and delivers a few too many scenes of Marky Mark's wifey (Kate Hudson) clenching her jaw and making desperate telephone calls when disaster strikes. Oh well, audiences like to believe how important family and family values are. I guess we can't deny them that.

The film eventually builds to the de rigueur mini-doc conclusion where we get to meet the real-life protagonists and discover that none of them really look or sound like the movie stars we've been spending time with. No matter, after the harrowing deaths, maiming and sheer terror, this section hammers home the genuine bravery of the "real" men before revealing the sad reality that all the corporate fuckwads responsible got off with nary a wrist-slap.

It's the way of the world and even though the only real reason films like these are made is to wallow in the carnage for our edification, one can never deny the power of sticking it to the "man" anytime a picture can.


Deepwater Horizon is a Gala Presentation at TIFF 2016.