It is officially labeled as the world’s largest accidental oil spill. According to an On Scene Coordinator Report submitted to the National Response Team in September 2011, the blowout that occurred on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20, 2010 caused about 4.9 million barrels of oil to be spewed into the Gulf of Mexico. An estimated 740 to 9,315 jobs were lost in the Gulf’s commercial fishing industry, and as of July 14, 2016, BP’s total cost of clean up efforts, fines, and settlements was $62 Billion. The disaster also took the lives of 11 men and left 115 struggling with PTSD and survivor’s guilt.
Mike Williams (portrayed by Mark Wahlberg) was one of those 115 survivors. Even though he was an integral part in Peter Berg’s Deepwater Horizon motion picture–he helped the director and the cast grasp the true essence of life on the rig that day–he still had trouble viewing the completed film.
Williams told People, “We sat and watched it, and there were multiple scenes that I covered my face.”
As a regular audience member, it’s hard not to cover your own face. You spend the first half of the movie with your head in your hands, dismayed at the level of disrepair the Deepwater Horizon oil rig is in and the number of corners cut to speed up production and save money. The last half of the movie is spent with your hands over your ears as Berg channels Michael Bay, rocking the rig with explosion after explosion.
Environmentally speaking, we all know how the spill devastated the Gulf’s ecosystem. We didn’t need a movie hammering that message into our brains again. What we needed was a single oil-drenched pelican flying into the Damon Bankston–a nearby supply boat–and alerting the crew to the horrors happening just a few nautical miles away. It was just enough to acknowledge the harm done to the wildlife of the area, but not so much to take away from the real message of Deepwater Horizon: putting money before the safety of your crew never ends well.
While some may argue that Berg’s movie points the finger of blame too strongly at BP, the fact of the matter is the company has had a history of bad luck with oil. In 2005, one of their refineries in Texas blew up and killed 15 people, and a year later an oil pipeline in Alaska broke and spilled 200,000 gallons of oil. Just this month they’ve had an estimated 95 tons of oil leak into the North Sea. When investigating the Macondo oil well blowout of 2010, claims came up that a Trans-ocean employee by the name of Jason Anderson explained away the dangerous test results of the pipeline before the explosion. Unfortunately, since Anderson perished in the accident and neither of the two BP Site Leaders–both of whom had charges of manslaughter dropped during the course of the investigation–testified at the federal hearings, we’ll never know who convinced the crew to keep going.
Williams is quoted as saying “We condensed 12 hours into two hours, and so it was difficult to capture everything. But we did get the highlights, and what is portrayed in the film is all accurate.” If the movie’s not one hundred percent completely true, the cast and crew make up for the few scenes that take creative liberties. You forget that Walhberg and his costars are actors instead of rig workers, and the special effects make you feel like you’re trapped on the doomed Deepwater Horizon. A definite potential for an Oscar, I recommend any one who was captivated by the news stories to check this movie out.
8/10 for those who like “based on true story” movies
2/10 for those who work for BP
What do you think is the best way to prevent another disaster like this? Comment below or join the conversation at Omnibus Journal’s sister site The Unrefined Forum!
Featured photo courtesy of Summit Entertainment.