FILM OF THE WEEK: Deepwater Horizon (12A) ***

Mark Wahlberg. PA Photo/Lionsgate.
Mark Wahlberg. PA Photo/Lionsgate.
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On April 20, 2010, an explosion on the oil drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, located in the Gulf of Mexico, resulted in the deaths of 11 platform workers. When the structure eventually sank, oil continued to gush from the sea floor for almost three months.

Pivotal moments from this harrowing real-life disaster are recreated with testosterone-fuelled swagger by director Peter Berg in Deepwater Horizon.

Based on a newspaper article about the platform’s final heart-stopping hours, the film reunites Berg with leading man Mark Wahlberg after their collaboration on wartime drama Lone Survivor.

The sense of dread that pervades early scenes – the calm before the digitally enhanced storm – is palpable. Scriptwriters Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand hastily sketch characters so we have emotional ties to several rig workers before the initial devastating blast.

Wahlberg looks stoic in the face of certain death, flexing his muscles as an action-packed second half demonstrates Berg’s brio behind the camera.

Co-star Kurt Russell has excellent form with on-screen pyrotechnics.

Engineer Mike Williams (Wahlberg) kisses his beautiful wife Felicia (Kate Hudson) goodbye before he boards a helicopter to the BP-owned and operated drilling platform Deepwater Horizon located approximately 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana.

Other passengers include installation manager Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) and third mate Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez).

Once they land, Jimmy becomes concerned that BP officials, including well site leader Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich), have not carried out sufficient checks to ensure the drill is operating safely.

Jimmy orders a test, which brings back concerning yet inconclusive results and reluctantly he gives the go ahead to continue drilling.

Crew members including Jason Anderson (Ethan Suplee) and Caleb Holloway (Dylan O’Brien) attempt to make up for lost time, but a massive blowout tears through the 121-metre long rig.

Survivors of the initial blast race against time to lower lifeboats into the water before flames engulf the entire structure.

Deepwater Horizon captures the chaos of that fateful day, and the courage of men and women who risked their lives to save friends and co-workers from the rig’s twisted metal.

A heartfelt tribute to the lost crew over the end credits brings the film to a sombre close.