I love a good disaster flick. Brings back to me memories of movies such as Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure and probably also Titanic. So this based on true events story was an easy prospect. Mark Wahlberg, one of those actors who I’ve always enjoyed in pretty much anything stars alongside veterans Kurt Russell and John Malcovich in the story of a colossal disaster that hit the an oil rig off the gulf of Mexico in 2010.
Wahlberg plays Mike Williams, an electrical engineer who returns to work at Deepwater Horizon, leaving his dutiful wife (Kate Hudson) and daughter back home for what he believes will be a routine time on-board an oil rig. However after coming up against the bureaucratic dealings of a group of BP representatives (headed by Malcovich) Mike along with his supervisor Jimmy (Russell) begin to realise several safety measures may have been overlooked.
The movie takes a bit of time to get going and I’ll admit some of the technical jargon went over my head. Also Malcovich, usually a reliable presence in any movie, seemed particular subdued and sported a rather dodgy accent. With that said, once things do go south, its full on thrills and spills for the remaining running time. This is pretty intense stuff, directed with authenticity and boasts several heart-in-mouth moments that to be honest made the experience really jump from the screen and unnerve me. Effects work, both practical and I’m guessing CGI were very impressive too. Wahlberg, a very likable actor but with not that much depth, was also a surprise, proving convincing throughout; not too heroic but very human. Russell was a little more stereotyped but despite looking older than his heyday, still had screen presence. Also add to this what appeared to be first time actors or regular people filling out some of the extras for added realism and this had echoes of Tom Hanks vehicle Captain Phillips for an utterly believable representation of a shocking event.
I can’t say I’ve been all that drawn to Dwayne ‘the rock’ Johnson as a movie star and was never into American Wrestling. However this disaster action flick seemed like an easy choice for an evening’s entertainment, and hell – isn’t The Rock in everything these days?
He plays a Helicopter rescue officer who becomes embroiled in the search for his estranged wife (Carla Gugino) and teenage daughter after a series of devastating earthquakes rumble through California. In the grand tradition of Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich this is primarily an excuse for effects wizards to really go to town as we witness mass destruction, sky scrapers toppling and the hoover dam bursting … all done with some impressive CGI and excellent set design. It’s glossy, loud, intense and very exciting as we watch various individuals try and survive an event that is literally tearing the west coast of the united states apart. It wasn’t hard to get caught up in the story either, with The Rock harbouring regretful memories following the collapse of his marriage, and having to watch his wife move in with another guy (a slimy Ioan Gruffudd). Yet this is also where the story starts to get rather familiar.
Yes this is pretty clichéd stuff, the troubled hero trying to piece his family back together and it takes a cataclysmic event for him to realise what he’s missing. Also we get some awful stereotypes such as the typical Hugh Grant-like English lad who is clearly going to be a love interest for the (predictably) hot daughter. Add to this a scientist (Paul Giamatti) who nobody listens to at first (he may as well be Jeff Goldbum), and some very predictable near-miss almost deaths and – despite plenty of energy and quality effects – I was entertained but not at all surprised. It also get’s pretty crazy towards the end (that cruise ship bit…). Yet although failing to re-write the disaster movie rule book, and sticking a bit too rigidly to formula … for a solid two hours entertainment – I’d still say this is worth a watch. Oh and, The Rock wasn’t bad either.
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