(US/China - 2016)
Directed by Peter Berg. Written by Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand. Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Kate Hudson, Gina Rodriguez, Dylan O'Brien, Ethan Suplee, J.D. Evermore, Trace Adkins, James DuMont, Douglas M. Griffin, Brad Leland, Dave Maldonado, Peter Berg, Stella Allen. (PG-13, 106 mins)
This riveting chronicle of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, which led to the worst oil spill in U.S. history, reunites LONE SURVIVOR star Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg. Berg shot this back-to-back with the upcoming PATRIOTS DAY, with Wahlberg as a cop working security detail on the day of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. These three Wahlberg/Berg collaborations tentatively form a loose trilogy of ordinary people finding themselves in extraordinary and summoning a fighting spirit from deep within to do whatever they need to do to survive. With AMERICAN SNIPER and SULLY, Clint Eastwood has also staked a claim to this territory, but Berg (who came onboard at Wahlberg's request after A MOST VIOLENT YEAR director J.C. Chandor quit over creative differences during pre-production) doesn't resort to Eastwood's hagiographic tendencies, nor do he and screenwriters Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand have to pull a SULLY and invent a bad guy to manufacture dramatic tension. The tension is there from the start, when Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell), the installation manager contracted to run operations on the Transocean-owned semi-submersible oil rig, is arriving for a 21-day stint and already butting heads with corporate guys from BP, who had a longstanding lease on the Deepwater Horizon. The bad omens manifest before they even get on the rig, from a bird strike on the plane ride out, to Harrell--"Mr. Jimmy" to his loyal crew--superstitiously requesting that smug BP pencil-pusher O'Bryan (James DuMont) take off his magenta-colored tie.
Justin Wilson might politely request that he take it down a notch. The actor gets dangerously close to CON AIR mode here, and other than some scattered shots of the now-mandatory unconvincing CGI fire, it's the one big misstep the film makes.