Mike Williams is an oil-rig tech heading out for a three-week stint aboard the Deepwater Horizon, an exploration drilling site 41 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Upon arrival, learns that a critical concrete inspection has not been done. His fears are echoed by rig skipper Jimmy Harrell. BP executives are on hand to help keep operations on schedule. After two pressure tests show inconclusive results, it’s decided that drilling will continue. On the night of April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon catches fire from the release of methane gas and a huge spill is initiated when the well cannot be capped. Eleven men are lost, hundreds of lives are changed forever and the ecological damage is beyond imagination.
2016, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 47 mins
Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich
Directed by Peter Berg
Violence: Intense action & peril
This film is a reasonably-accurate account of the events of 2010 in which a deep-drilling rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico. The story covers only the disaster itself, not the investigation which continues to this day. Thanks to an A-list cast, the intensity and danger is presented here in an almost visceral fashion. Even though the viewer knows what’s about to happen, the build-up is guaranteed to quicken the pulse.
Director Peter Berg has done a masterful job portraying the gravity of the disaster thanks to amazing visual effects and a sound track that will literally blow you out of your chair. The main characters are well-played by Kurt Russell and Mark Wahlberg. John Malkovich as the principal villain was also superb. His portrayal definitely points the finger at BP and its consideration of safety protocols. Whether BP is solely to blame is a matter for debate but Deepwater Horizon stands as a fitting tribute to hard-working Americans who toil at great risk to maintain an infrastructure that most of us take for granted. If you’re interested in the history of these events, I highly recommend this Blu-ray.
The image is presented in rich, natural hues with sharp detail and deep contrast. The grit and grime of deep-sea drilling operations is just as much felt as seen. Digital effects are integrated perfectly and seamlessly into the live action. About the only thing the viewer won’t feel is the intense heat.
The Dolby Atmos encode is among the best I’ve experienced on Blu-ray. Even though I watched it in traditional 5.1, the mix level is extremely high and completely free of distortion. If you have a big sub, you will absolutely want to add this title to your demo list. My room literally shook for almost the entire movie. Dialog is clean and crisp but some will have difficulty understanding the rapid chatter and thick Southern accents. This isn’t the fault of the transfer however.
Bonus features are extensive and anchored by an hour-long documentary in which Mark Wahlberg and other cast members meet survivors of the disaster and discuss their personal experiences. There are also making-of featurettes and cast interviews. Raw footage from the set is included as well. Finally, there is a beautiful tribute to American Workers with eight individual stories.
My evaluation package included a Google Cardboard VR viewer which is used with a smartphone. The footage comes in the form of an app which you download and watch. One scene is available right away and the remaining two appear while watching the movie via audio cues. They show 360-degree views of the sets and locations used in the film. It’s a little tricky to set up in that your phone must be precisely positioned in the viewer. Once installed though, it makes an interesting addition to the release.