“Deepwater Horizon,” Mark Wahlberg Provide Shallow Interpretation of BP Oil Spill

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

Rafael Smith

Even the atmosphere of the Drake and Josh movie theater, Camino Real Cinemas, could do little to liven the premiere of Deepwater Horizon. As I took my seat and scanned the theater, every couple that I saw could be described with an identical sentence: white married couple in their 60’s. Immediately impressed upon me was the notion that Deepwater Horizon was not going to be the blockbuster I had hoped for when buying my ticket.

And I was not wrong. I realized about halfway through the movie that, without the early “based on true events” memo, this film would have no business being released in theaters. Which begs the question, if a movie’s only value comes from the fact it is based on a true story, and nothing theatrical whatsoever, does the movie have any necessity appearing on the big screen?

A movie should be elevated by true events that took place, but not solely supported by it. As evidenced by shortcomings I will go into later, the BP oil spill is not an event with the magnitude to support an entire Hollywood movie.

For example, there is a tool in writing: dramatic irony. When a writer wants to make a point that the audience will understand but the characters cannot grasp, they use dramatic irony. It is best used subtly so as to not belabor the audience with the obvious. Yet, the writers of Deepwater Horizon beat the audience to death with the amount of dramatic irony used in the movie.

Everybody knows since before taking their seat that the oil rig is going to explode, it’s on the movie poster, and yet the writers make a point of reminding you in every scene leading up to the big explosion. Some of the ways they advertise the explosion hurt the mind with their simplicity, causing you to cringe in your seat. From a bird running into the rotors of their helicopter to a magenta tie that corresponds with a magenta warning on an oil rig, there was no scene left without foreshadowing.

Another major issue was the only empathy I felt for the crew on the rig came from the fact that I am a human being. The movie did little to develop a vast majority of the crew. The only time they were on screen was when they were dying or cracking some small joke. The pace of the movie became dictated by conflict between rich oil executives and Mark Wahlberg followed by some cheap joke by a member of the crew.

If an entire crew of people is about to die, and the entire premise of the movie is to commend the emergency response and their saving of over a hundred crew members, I should care a little more about the crew. One of the best characters was Mike William’s (Wahlberg) daughter, but she was snubbed after the opening scene in the movie.

For the most part, the movie was Mark Wahlberg saving the day. And if you have seen any of Wahlberg’s previous attempts at producing/starring in a movie (Lone Survivor, Shooter, Pain & Gain) then you’ll have a hard time watching anything new. Mark’s only issue is that he isn’t Matt Damon in the Bourne Trilogy, Bruce Willis in Die Hard or Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Mark can’t carry an entire scene, let alone an entire movie.

Where I think this movie lost potential is in the theme department. What we have is the pinnacle of corporate greed and corruption: a company blindly drilling oil from the earth at the expense of hundreds of lives. The movie would rather highlight one man’s heroics. Not to say that this movie shouldn’t have had its fair share of heroics, simply that I believe this was an action/biological disaster movie, depending on what website you check, that would have been much better as a drama.

Deepwater Horizon is a harrowing account of the destruction enacted by greed. However, their target missed the mark by failing to zoom in on the corruption of British Petroleum (BP). If Mark Wahlberg were to come out with another adult comedy like Ted, I would recommend it, but until he stops continuing to make the same movie over and over again (his next film is Patriot’s Day, another based-on-true-events, Mark Wahlberg to the rescue movie slated for release in 2016) I can’t recommend paying to see his work.