Deepwater Horizon (2016) IMAX

Stars: Mark WahlbergKurt RussellJohn Malkovich.

Director: Peter Berg

This was my first REAL experience of a movie in IMAX, I had seen Inception on an IMAX screen but I’m told the film was never shot in an IMAX print so this was the first time for me.  I had no real expectations of the film other than it looking a bit like a Michael Bay travesty of a cheesy action sequence based blockbuster. Fortunately, with Peter Berg at the helm that was never going to happen.

Based on actual events in 2010, the film recollects and depicts the perilous events aboard the Deepwater Horizon; a semi-submersible offshore drilling rig.  When, after having their hands forced by BP executives, a disaster of unprecedented levels would destroy the rig and cause the worst oil spill in US history.

The film is really split into two sections; the first half deals with the discussions about safety tests and guidelines as to what would allow the BP executives to proceed with a safe drill.  This leads to many heated discussions particularly between executive Vidrine (Malkovich) and rigs Captain “Mr Jimmy” (Russell).  These are great exchanges but for the fact that it’s very hard to understand what Vidrine is saying, Malkovich’s accent was quite inaudible at time and I’m not actually sure where they were trying to suggest he came from!  Mark Wahlberg is in clearer form as the slightly more gently spoken family man Mike Williams.  It’s from Williams’ perspective that the events are told.  That’s in summary how the first forty to fifty minutes unfold before the real spectacle is unleashed.

It won’t take too many words to describe the destruction that then blazes across the huge screen with relentless pace and deafening sound.  The IMAX experience utilises it’s technology to full effect.  It’s a stunning fifty or so minutes.  Fire and explosions rip the rig apart, oil gushes and floods out the decks.  I remember being aghast at the fire sequences in Backdraft some twenty five years ago, coincidentally also starring Kurt Russell, and my reaction here was very similar.  Of course, it should be remembered that lives were lost on that fateful night and they are paid the respect due to them at the film’s close along with a summary of the inquest that took place afterwards.

After my fears about cheesiness there really wasn’t any to speak of apart from, maybe, one little cry about his family from Williams towards the end.  Apart from the opening the fifty minutes or so the dialogue is limited and the disaster itself does the talking.  For Wahlberg, Russell and Malkovich (despite the accent) this was meat and drink to them.  They all give worthy accounts that complete the movie as a whole.

The Verdict:

4/5 Stars: A real cinema experience

Deepwater Horizon on IMDb

Deepwater Horizon Official Website


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