Deepwater Horizon

September 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Gina Rodriguez, John Malkovich
Directed by: Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights”)
Written by: Matthew Michael Carnahan (“World War Z”) and Matthew Sand (“Ninja Assassin”)

“Deepwater Horizon,” a film that tells the heroic story of the individuals who survived a massive explosion on an offshore drilling rig in 2010, is an emotionally surface-level drama for a majority of its run time. That doesn’t mean, however, the true story isn’t compelling and executed with an effective approach by director Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights”). Most people will know this event simply as the worst oil spill in U.S. history, but by adding a human aspect to it like Berg is able to do for the most part, the dynamic intensifies the entire narrative.

Mark Wahlberg leads the cast as Mike Williams, a veteran oil driller who helps his comrades escape the rig when catastrophe hits. Behind schedule by 43 days and budget by $50 million, the drillers are pressured by the big wigs from multimillion dollar oil company BP to get the job done as fast as possible. Mike’s supervisor Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) is concerned with what he sees as cutting corners and making their work more dangerous. Of course, Jimmy’s fears are warranted when a blowout occurs forcing the drillers to find a way off the rig before it sinks.

Focused mostly on the hero of the story (but never coming off as ridiculous as Wahlberg’s other true-life survival story “Lone Survivor”) “Deepwater” stays engaging despite the lack of a real emotional hook until the very end. Kate Hudson does a fine job as Mike’s worried wife Felicia at home, and Gina Rodriguez provides some strong acting chops as the lone female on the rig. Other secondary characters, however, feel hollow, especially Dylan O’Brien’s character.  His role as a young driller on the rig feels like it was edited down to nothing. Then there’s John Malkovich, a “villainous” BP executive, whose Louisiana accent is distracting to say the least.

Although some of the characters are thinly written, the overall storytelling of “Deepwater Horizon” is done very well. This isn’t just a generic action film where Wahlberg jumps through flames (although he does jump over a fire once) and carries three men on his back to safety. Sure, sometimes films like this can fall too deep into “hero worshipping” (see the aforementioned “Lone Survivor” or something like “American Sniper”), but Wahlberg keeps everyone grounded without sacrificing the impression of true bravery.

State of Play

April 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams
Directed by: Kevin McDonald (“The Last King of Scotland”)
Written by: Matthew Michael Carnahan (“Lions for Lambs”), Tony Gilroy (“Michael Clayton”), Billy Ray (“Breach”)

There will never be another newspaper film like “State of Play.”

While it might be a bit extreme to say Russell Crowe and Rachel McAdams are on the same tier as Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford’s Woodward and Bernstein in the 1976 media epic “All the President’s Men,” no one has ever come as close to capturing the true meaning of investigative journalism in the print media. Even with some sensationalism thrown in for flavor, “State of Play” is smartly done.

For the generation who like their news in short blurbs written by bloggers who use Wikipedia as their main source, this definitely won’t resonate with you. For those who still value the art of in-depth reporting and the way an actual newspaper still feels between your fingertips, “State of Play” is as tightly written as a front-page story grinded out on an unapologetic deadline by a veteran reporter.

Based on a 2003 British TV miniseries of the same name, “State of Play” follows old-school Washington D.C. scribe Cal McAffrey (Crowe) in the middle of a political scandal that slowly reels him personally and professionally. The mistress of his old college friend, Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), has died of an apparent suicide, but with some exceptional fact digging, Cal uncovers other circumstances that could prove to be damaging to some governmental bigwigs and to himself on an ethical level.

There to pick up the slack as their scowling editor (Helen Mirren) keeps a sharp eye on her staff is internet reporter Della Frye (McAdams), whose blogging abilities are just impressive enough to provoke Cal’s traditional stance on his lifelong career. “I’m just trying to help you get a few facts in the mix the next time you upchuck online.”

Still, a little new blood never hurt anyone especially with someone as hungry for a newsworthy story as Della. Crowe and McAdams’ chemistry blends well from the start and only strengthens as the political thriller dashes in and out of some sharp turns and detailed storytelling. It’s easily the best newspaper movie since 2003 “Shattered Glass” and the most intelligent film to be released in the first third of the year.