But where money's involved, ambition can turn to greed in a blink of an eye. Deepwater Horizon, the recounting of a real-life 2010 tragedy, would have us believe it's corporate disregard that caused the death of 11 workers and the loss of 4.9 billion gallons of oil.
The story of the doomed Deepwater Horizon rig is obviously reminiscent of the story of the Titanic – another famous calamity which suggests that silly humans can't help but suck too hard at Mother Nature's teats. The difference in this case is that the brilliance of modern science and engineering is supposed to provide certain fail-safes. The opening act of Deepwater Horizon is determined to demonstrate this through a bombardment of technical information. Terms like 'bore-depth', 'blowout preventer', and 'bladder effect' are thrown around so frequently you expect the third act to be a written assessment.
Equally, no punches are pulled in telling us specifically that British Petroleum's decision to avoid carrying out a crucially important 'Cement Log test' was a very bad idea. It's the old case of Big Guy versus Little Guy as malignant BP crony Donald Vidrine (John-Malkovich) faces off against rough and tough engineers like Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) and Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg).
Vidrine argues that ambiguous pressure tests will suffice. They don't, of course. And when disaster strikes, the corporate/individual power-struggle theme is suddenly abandoned in favour of showing the explosive consequences and the struggle of the engineers to escape the burning rig. There's no denying Deepwater Horizon is less a treatise on corporate morality than it is a blistering action flick, but this is no matter: the action-packed catastrophe is played off about as well as a Hollywood-sized budget can muster. While scenes of destruction are sometimes little more than baffling depictions of random objects colliding and combusting, the drama and tension at these points is near pitch-perfect.
There is the necessary question as to how reverent a movie can be when it dramatises the loss of actual human life and consists mostly of explosions. Fortunately, the individuals who died are well-served by the writing and excellent performances that are full of humanity. Wahlberg is the main focus, and the relationship between Williams and wife Felicia (Kate Hudson) provides a genuinely heartfelt depiction of love at long distance.
There is only a single scene, involving a pair of oil soaked
sea-birds, which provides a nod to the environmental damage suffered,
and this is perhaps too little. But as a depiction of individual
camaraderie and resilience, Deepwater Horizon is success.
|What||Deepwater Horizon film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
30 Sep 16 – 30 Nov 16, Times vary
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more details|