On April 20th, 2010, one of the world’s largest man-made disasters occurred on the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. Directed by Peter Berg ("Lone Survivor"), this film’s story honors the brave men and women whose heroism would save many on board, and change everyone’s lives forever.
PROS: The chaos, explosions and reenactment of human activity, as well as displays of courage are impressive to view. Unless you have been on a floating oil rig before you have no clue or reference point of the size, the technical complexity and engineering intricacies that is involved to manage and operate these behemoths of steel, wire, pipes and wires just to pump oil to make gasoline to insure you keep your car running to gleefully visit your in laws weekly (smiles) or to make life saving medicines and products.
CONS: Where do I begin? First, the screenplay, especially for the first 30 minutes, was nothing short of BP Oil, engineering, techno-babble gibberish that had me scratching my head asking………………. “What the hell did he (they) say?” The dialog was so indecipherable at times to the overall plot I am still wondering what they were talking about to each other.
Second, for me Director Peter Berg falls into that category of director where he is always consistent. He either consistently hits all of his directorial marks as he did in the excellent “Lone Survivor” or he consistently misses all of his marks as he did in the clunker “Battleship”. This film “DWH” is somewhere in between. You the viewer have the advantage going into the theater already having a sense of the basic events leading up and post to the BP oil disaster; so in that respect Berg’s film is easy to follow. But if you didn’t know a single aspect about the events of that day, I would venture to say any reasonable person watching this film would be scratching their heads as I did asking ….”What the hell did they do wrong?”
Third, from a visual point of view Berg must have mounted his camera on the back of Humming Bird that was strung out on PCP. Meaning? Meaning, every frame he seems to jump back and forward so rapidly from the principles speaking at the time (focusing on them for no more than 4-5 seconds) you see no advantage to this trick other than to make sure you see that person’s lips move during the verbal exchange. He also takes this same nervous energy to the big finale of when the explosion and chaos begins on the platform. The result for me was again you would be hard pressed again to know what was happening. … “What the hell they are they doing now?”........... “Where the hell are they now?” Ultimately this quick trigger camera action made it particularly hard for to know where the crew were at critical moments on the rig as they tried to escape from the fiery inferno. Believe me if this was a crime film you sat through for 1:45 minute running time, you be hard pressed to identify anyone in the cast to a police lineup if your life counted on it. Note to Berg, watch Titanic……….learn.
Inspite of all this you now ask me ………..”So, Lester is it entertaining?........... Yes it is. Hey Lester is it coherent?............ Eeeh somewhat – eeh no so much”. My problem with the film as a whole is that the aggregate effort takes too much liberty at each frame in showcasing the events and the entire story with a conventional simplicity in the execution of what happened that day. There is drama, but it doesn’t grab you by the throat. And while the film (at the very end) pointed out the cost of 11 men their lives, it does little to make it feel more than just a passing foot note. That’s not to mention not one offering of the magnitude of the ecological, economic and political fallout that occur that day as well.
Berg does a solid job of capturing what it looks like for a metal floating city looks like on fire; the intensity and ferocity of the explosion, flying projectiles, steel structures collapsing and basically how terrifying it must have been for all onboard was very, very impressive. But in the end I say that “DWH” is both a mix entertaining and a bit disappointing. And in the end, I was a bit more disappointed in the Direction and Writing than anything else.
3 - 1/4 Stars