The largest oil spill in U.S. history isn’t the most obvious, or even the most appropriate, place to set a story about everyday heroes, but director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg are doing their best to sell us on that version of events in Deepwater Horizon. In fact, the pair are in the midst of a pseudo-trilogy, with 2013’s Lone Survivor and the upcoming Patriots Day all documenting heroic tales of regular guys.
The glaring problem with Deepwater Horizon is that it doesn’t feature the typical building blocks for a hero film. An employee on a malfunctioning oil rig doesn’t carry the same gravitas as a police officer in a terrorist attack or a soldier on a doomed mission, and the film will need to convince audiences that Wahlberg and his younger cohort played by Dylan O’Brien are worthy of the same myopic glorification.
Still, any unnecessary loss of human life should be regarded as tragic, and separating the people on the burning rig from the companies that shelled out billions in fines will go a long way towards making this film work. The trailer smartly focuses on the human element, taking the time to establishing families and relationships before descending into disaster.
But make no mistake, that period when the rig is engulfed in flames will be the film’s bread and butter. Berg went all-in on the violence in Lone Survivor, and I can’t imagine that studios ponied up an estimated $156 million without getting a lot of fiery explosions.
That disaster sequence should fill some seats, but questions remain about whether a large audience will turn up for a positive spin on this very public disaster. We’ve all seen the pictures of sad, oil-covered birds. Can Wahlberg leaping from a burning rig overcome that?
Deepwater Horizon is directed by Peter Berg and stars Mark Wahlberg, Dylan O’Brien, and Kate Hudson. It will be released in the U.S. and the U.K. on September 30th, 2016. For international release dates, click here.
Do you think Deepwater Horizon can pull off its positive spin? Let us know in the comments!
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