Deepwater Horizon

Image: Summit Entertainment

The Deepwater Horizon was an offshore oil drilling rig owned by Transocean and leased to BP. On April 20, 2010, a blowout occurred causing an explosion and an inextinguishable fire on the Horizon. Two days later the Horizon sank, leaving behind an open oil well which resulted in the largest oil spill that has occurred in U.S. waters.

Hearing about these events on the news are bad enough, but for many it can be difficult to comprehend the enormity of such an occurrence. Seeing them adapted to film can help to bring a clearer understanding of what the crew of the Deepwater Horizon went through.

A recording of a statement given by Mike Williams, the Chief Electronics Technician, opens this movie. The sound but lack of visuals on the screen make you pay closer attention to the words of Mr Williams, this bringing to the forefront of your mind that this isn’t just a movie. This is a dramatisation of a real situation that real people went through only 6 years ago.

Mark Wahlberg portrays Williams, alongside Kurt Russell as Jimmy “Mr Jimmy” Harrell, the Offshore Installation Manager, Gina Rodriguez as the Dynamic Positioning Operator Andrea Fleytas, and Dylan O’Brien as Caleb Holloway, a floorhand on the drill crew.

Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich) was a BP Executive and a rig supervisor. When less than perfect results where received from a pressure test on the drill, Virdine overruled the operators in the hope to catch up on lost time, the project being 43 days behind schedule at this point. This, in conjunction with having declined to have a test run to ascertain the integrity of the cement wall poured around the drill that resulted in the blow out.

After watching the build-up of the to-and-fro between the men in charge of the purse strings and the men tasked with the installation of the drill you might start to feel nervous, knowing what’s to come. Seeing the pressure put on cutting costs and meeting deadlines and the disregard of the opinions of the men doing the actual work, it’s hard not to feel resentment towards BP and the executives portrayed.

When the blow out and explosion occurs, the visuals and audio are phenomenal. The force with which the mud and oil blast through the rig is indescribable. I cannot even begin to imagine what it’s must have been to go through that; restricted as they were by the remoteness that defines an offshore drilling rig. As the imagery climaxes, so does the sound. Starting with the low rumbling and climbing until it reaches its peak and becomes a deaf roaring feel in your ears.

Wahlberg, Russell, Rodriguez, and O’Brien, along with the rest of the cast, do credit to themselves in their portrayal of the crew. To bring to the screen the struggle that these men and woman went through to stay alive and keep others alive is a great thing; reminding the world that the resulting oil spill wasn’t the only event.

Theoretically, I knew that the events of Deepwater Horizon were bad, but it wasn’t until I heard the rollcall being read out and the silence after the names of the 11 men who died that it was really driven home. Deep sea oil rigs are out there; they are real places where many people work. Safety procedures and quality tests are put in place for a reason. When these procedures are ignored for the chance to earn back a few lost days and save some money, the price can very well be much higher.

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