Based on the worst oil spill in U.S. history, Deepwater Horizon stars Mark Wahlberg as Mike Williams an electronics technician employed by Transocean, hired to dig a well in the Gulf of Mexico that will be pumped for oil by BP.  As anyone aware of the news back in April of 2010 will remember, things went horribly wrong and the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig was engulfed in flames. Gallons upon gallons of black crude oil was sent gushing into the Gulf and eleven lives were lost. Largely Putting the focus on Williams, crew chief Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell), bridge officer Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez) and floorhand Calendar Holloway (Dylan O’Brien) to push the story forward, director Peter Berg has realistically recreated the horror of the accident.

A stickler for details, Berg quickly immerses viewers in the technical jargon. A lot of the dialogue will be indecipherable unless you’re an oil drilling professional. Nonetheless, this authenticity is a strong point for the film, adding to its authenticity. The shop talk is supplemented by shots of mud and oil clogging up the pipes and eventually bursting under the tremendous pressure. Seeing the basics of what’s happening makes it easy to understand.

When Mike, Jimmy and Andrea arrive on the offshore drilling rig for a three-week stint, they discover that an important test has been skipped because the project has fallen behind schedule. Despite warnings from Jimmy about the importance of conducting the test, Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich) concerned about the bottom line, remains convinced that the test is a west of time and money. Adamant about the safety of his crew, Jimmy insists they do some additional tests before drilling begins. When the tests prove inconclusive, Vidrine pressures the men into starting the job.

When tragedy strikes, Deepwater Horizon goes into action overdrive. oil and mud blast from pipes. The pressure sends workers flying into walls and railings. Jimmy, taking a shower at the time of the explosion, is blasted out of the bathroom enclosure. Fire is everywhere and the structure is severely compromised. Eventually, large pieces of the rig crumble into the water. All of this looks amazingly realistic. So much so, you would swear it was filmed on an actual oil rig, sans CGI. Peter Berg makes you feel as if you are aboard that rig.

Unfortunately, the film lacks any deep, emotional connection to the characters. Though Deepwater Horizon boasts a talented cast, none of them are given a whole lot to do. The early scenes between Mike and his wife Felicia (Kate Hudson) are the closest we get to any type of real character development. In the opening scenes, we get a glimpse of Mike’s home life and his devotion to his wife and daughter. We also get a real sense that Felicia is a real tough cookie. However, once the accident happens, she’s reduced to the Stereotypical Worried Wife at Home. Getting her more involved during the hours of uncertainty, could have provided the film with an emotional anchor of sorts.

As it stands, Deepwater Horizon is a stunning recreation of a horrific accident and serves as an example of co-workers doing whatever it took to help each other when the chips were down. Wahlberg does a good job as the courageous everyman, Kurt Russell is in fine form, adding his grizzled charm to the proceedings and Gina Rodriguez? well it’s always great to have a woman around a heavy action film.

Presented on 4K UHD courtesy of Lionsgate Films with a 2160p transfer in 2.40:1, Deepwater Horizon offers some stunning visuals. Fine detail is amazing (and occasionally gruesome as the tragedy unfolds. It’s tough to watch as Jimmy pulls a piece of glass out of his foot). shadow detail is top notch throughout, particularly in underwater scenes. Color palette and depth of field are slightly more nuanced. Fans should be quite pleased with this 4K disc.

Deepwater Horizon’s Dolby Atmos track is reference quality material. Even before the explosions start, we get the roaring sound of the helicopter as the team heads out to the rig. When the explosions do start, you’ll feel as if you’re right in the middle of the action. Various effects bounce off the surrounds in rapid succession. Everything is perfectly mixed and dialogue sounds clear throughout.

English SDH, English and Spanish subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • Beyond the Horizon (HD, 51:21) Includes several segments devoted to Mark Wahlberg, Kate Hudson, Kurt Russell and Dylan O’Brien, but which branch out into various aspects of the production.
  • Captain of the Rig: Peter Berg (HD, 18:15) A profile of the film’s director.
  • The Fury of the Rig (HD, 27:20) An extensive look at the big rig set.
  • Deepwater Surveillance (HD, 17:40) Unedited footage from various sequences of film.
  • Participant Media Work Like an American:
    • American Worker Tributes (HD,16:03) Looks at some of the real life heroes of the tragedy
    • I Am a Steel Beam with Narration by Director Peter Berg (HD,1:03) Profiles a steel beam as well as other construction miracles.
    • I Am a Steel Beam with Narration by Gina Rodriguez (HD, 1:03) The same piece with a different narrator.
  • DVD
  • Digital HD
  • UltraViolet

Deepwater Horizon (2016)
4 Reviewer