Deepwater Horizon is the most entertaining Hollywood disaster movie in years. I'm sorry -- is that a terrible thing to say? Peter Berg's film is based on the true story of the BP-leased, Transocean-owned deepwater drilling rig that in 2010 exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 souls and causing an environmental catastrophe that devastated the region. Berg brings gravity to this real-life tragedy, but his movie truly comes alive when things go boom, when the mud and oil start spraying and the bodies start flying.
The Deepwater Horizon is a massive, complicated and aging beast riddled with problems. BP executives, eager to get moving after falling 43 days behind schedule and $53 million over budget, don't want to fix anything, and they don't mind cutting corners. Among their key mistakes: sending the team that's supposed to test the cement used to plug up the Macondo well home early.
Berg tightens the screws beautifully -- following, in what appears to be excruciating detail, the tests the crew runs on the closed-off well to make sure it's properly sealed. Kurt Russell is perfectly cast as the no-bullshit veteran who wants to make sure the job is done right -- a fatherly stud. Mark Wahlberg plays to his strengths as the smartest guy in the room who just happens to look dumb. There's an inherent sadism in what the movie's doing, but it's of the good, Hitchcockian kind: We're on the side of our working-class heroes, underestimated professionals who know how the job needs to be done, so we want to see them proven right -- which means that we're secretly wishing for everything to go wrong.