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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Deepwater Horizon 2016 * * Stars

Deepwater HorizonDirector: Peter Berg
Year: 2016
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Kate Hudson

I admire Peter Berg's passion for being the dude that honors real-life heroes. It labored in his box office hit Lone Survivor but with Deepwater Horizon (my latest review), it just feels like hackwork.

Berg is the art film director's version of Michael Bay. He's the guy who made Very Bad Things and "Horizonis a "very" humdrum movie. This $156 million dollar release is based on true events and depicts the biggest oil spill in U.S. history (circa 2010). There's lots of nasty fire, flying nuts and bolts, broken bones, plenty of crew member speak, and mud covering the trouper's faces. Oh yeah, it's hot as heck on that oil rig. Pay attention though because as a viewer, it's hard to tell what's going on via "Horizon's" stilted camerawork and darkened cinematography.

Now for kicks and giggles, I read somewhere that a critic referred to this vehicle as "a poor man's Towering Inferno". Makes sense. "Inferno" has more compelling characters, doesn't come with a disjointed and clunky script, has more suspense, doesn't have its actors mumble their lines as if they have cotton in their mouths, and has a climax for the ages ("Horizon" not so much). Plus, The Towering Inferno (1974) is longer in length with stupendous editing. Talk about a cinematic oxymoron.

In regards to Deepwater Horizon, well Peter Berg shortens his film to 107 minutes. By explaining everything that happened to certain drillers in the closing credits, it feels as though he's trying to get this thing over with to get to his December release (see sixth paragraph).

So OK, "Horizon" is a BP subjection, a moviegoer's guide to drilling rig mumbo jumbo. It's also a rushed tribute that thinly honors the eleven people that died in one of the world's biggest man-made disasters. Disappointing is the word I thought of as I left the theater.

Anyway, Deepwater Horizon has odd Louisiana accents from big name actors (Mark Wahlber, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich), horrific images that have become Peter Berg's staple since Lone Survivor (mentioned earlier), and special effects that are technically efficient yet chaotic and messy. It's disaster porn but not in an eye candy sort of way. You sense that Berg wants to project things to be more realistic, more mechanical in nature. He's a filmmaker mired in being up to date and he makes his proceedings feel military even if it's about grubby, dirty oil riggers. Here's the problem though: He can't seem to wring any emotional response from me (I know I'm not alone on this). Let's hope that his next real-life salute being Patriots Day, fills that void. Rating: 2 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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