Tag Archives: Peter Berg

Deepwater Horizon (2016) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier ‬


Director: Peter Berg
Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan (screenplay by), Matthew Sand (screenplay by)
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Douglas M. Griffin

‪Plot:  A dramatisation of the disaster back in April 2010, when the offshore drilling rig called the Deepwater Horizon created a giant explosion, which created the worst oil spill in American history.‬
‪Running Time: 1 hour 47 minutes‬
‪Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics  83%   Audience: 82%‬

‪Why I watched it: Very interested in the true live story and of course I’m a huge lifelong fan of Kurt Russell.‬

‪Thoughts: Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have been on a run the last couple of years and all three of their films have gotten very good reviews.  Also a little note Peter Berg does make a cameo in this one. Plus a little more trivia I do think this is the fist film Hudson and Russell have been in together but they’re only on screen together for one scene.‬

‪What I liked: This is a very well made and well directed film.  The thing I like the most is how they keep the pace up, most directors would have made this a 2 hour plus movie but Berg streamlined it and it really helps with the tension and the sheer fear of the situation.  This easily could have been a disaster movie and in a way it is but it’s grounded with the characters and most of them are pretty well fleshed out, they’re not walking cliches except for the evil rich business men of course.‬
‪The acting is very good here, I’m not the biggest Marky Mark fan but he’s solid here, he cares he’s not sleep walking.  ‬

‪Kurt Russell is the standout, he brings such presence and of course experience.  I also liked Dylan O’Brien in this, he’s someone to watch for he does nice character work here, this character could have been very slight but he brings him to live, he’s not a plot point he’s a real character.‬
‪The set pieces, the effects for the most part are very good, you fell the danger and the CGI does not take you out of the film, not one time. The technology stuff is very well down, the sound is very good.‬

‪What I didn’t like: The Wahlberg family stuff wasn’t really need, they cut to his wife during these intense scenes and it really slowed down the momentum, wasn’t need we didn’t need to see her calling to see what was going on, it added nothing. This film also did a couple of very sappy and cliched things that they should have avoided. Near the end it was getting close to the Life Channel movies, it was very good for the most part but it did  get a little sappy and self righteous.  Even though it’s based on a true story it’s always too bad that life was taken because business men were greedy, it’s a cliche but also very true sadly.‬

‪Final Thoughts:  Very good film, I enjoyed it for the most part and it’s worth a watch.‬

‪Rating: 7/10‬

Deepwater Horizon (2016) Movie Review by John Walsh

Deepwater Horizon Review

Director: Peter Berg
Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan (screenplay), Matthew Sand (screenplay)
Stars: Mark Wahlberg,  Kurt Russell,  Douglas M. Griffin

In another successful collaborative effort between Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg, Deepwater Horizon, much like Patriot’s Day’s retelling of the Boston marathon bombing, is a dramatisation of a recent tragic real life event. This time focusing on the offshore drilling rig of the same name, the horrific explosion that occurred and the subsequent fiery oil spill which would go on to be the worst in U.S. history.

It all begins with the sound of the real Mike Williams being questioned about his role in the disaster and then Mark Wahlberg’s iteration takes to the screen along with Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez) as Berg sets about quickly introducing two of the films primary protagonists. The former awakes in bed with his wife, before sharing time with his family on the eve of his departure to the rig for 21 day’s, the exploding can of his daughter during her description of his job for a school project providing an eerily prophetic glimpse at what’s in store, whilst the latter is seen trotting out of her house before struggling to fix the mechanical issues dogging her vintage muscle car and finally hitching a ride on her partners bike. “You really want to drive? Then sell that piece of shit and get a Ducati” we here him say, this early bit of humour, providing a good indication of the witty banter this film does so well.

We’re then introduced to Jimmy ‘Mr. Jimmy’ Harrell (Kurt Russell) at the airport prior to them heading out and the short scene between him and the two BP executives gives a pretty decent insight into the commanding persona of his character. He politely asks one of them to “lose” his tie for superstitious reasons as it’s magenta colour is shared with the most severe of warnings on oil rigs. The early stages of the film is littered with little prophetic nods of this ilk and whilst it’s not overly distracting, it is pretty obvious that they’re attempting build tension towards the main event. This is taken one stage further when a bird strike occurs on the helicopter ride out to the rig. Once again, there’s some good, witty exchanges between the characters during this short trip, especially between Andrea and Mike, with a nice little recurring conversation regarding her broken car between the pair first popping up here.

Upon arriving at the rig, the shit hits the metaphorical fan almost immediately, when a team who were supposed to be tasked with checking the integrity of the cement structure abruptly leave the rig just as Mike, Andrea, Jimmy and the others arrive. This of course causes the long serving and well respected Jimmy to go off on a tangent, naturally seeking assurances of safety, which inevitably leads him on a collision course with Vidrine (John Malkovich); an annoyingly arrogant BP executive/inspector. After much debating and surprisingly vitriolic bashing of BP, including lines like “you’re a 180 billion dollar company and you cheat”, all parties involved agree to run a negative pressure test. The first of these is less than successful, but an adamant Vidrine, in complete denial even in the face of huge pressure spikes won’t admit defeat, providing a plausible ‘bladder’ theory for the results and demanding a retest on the ‘kill line’ to prove his point.

It’s at this point really that things go downhill dramatically for all onboard the rig. The second negative pressure test comes back all clear and a smug Vidrine, throwing awfully polite insults like “you’re nervous as cats” and threats out, essentially forces the operation to be resumed. As history now shows, this proved to be a catastrophic decision. Shortly afterwards, a massive, irreversible, pressure buildup erupted up the main pipe on the rig causing widespread destruction on the rig, killing dozens and finally after a huge explosion, sent the entire structure up into a blazing inferno. Jimmy, who was in the shower at the time of the initial explosion, is partially blinded at one point and forced to remove a massive metal shard from his foot. Despite this, both him and Mike, the former ordering Vidrine to “get his ass on the lifeboat”, manage to keep calm in the chaos that surrounds them and courageously work together to try and cut the pipe and stop the oil from flowing out into the water.

Kurt Russell steals the show in this as the wily, old Jimmy, the veteran worker on the rigs, who despite having suffered terrible wounds, refuses to leave the burning structure until all avenues are exhausted. He brings plenty of charisma to the role and displays some good chemistry with the others. Mark Wahlberg is as reliable as ever putting in an excellent performance as the heroic Mike. These type of films are perfectly suited for him and you wouldn’t expect anything less than what he produced. Gina Rodriguez is something of a third sprung in the wheel and doesn’t really effect the overall story too much, but the scenes she had were well acted and she was decent enough. John Malkovich was fantastic as the incredibly annoying Vidrine. I doubt there’s been a more annoying character in a film I’ve watched all year. Everything about him was grating, including the accent, so I give kudos to Malkovich in his portrayal as the money obsessed man who would be later charged with manslaughter.

The film was a visual masterpiece and displayed some lovely cinematography work from Enrique Chediak. There was one particularly beautiful wide shot of the rig, standing alone in the water, prior to the disaster that caught my eye. It really helped highlight the precarious nature of these structures, whilst the internal shots of the piping and underwater rumblings added real tension to the film especially during the test scenes. But even the flames, explosions and fiery, oil slicked water were incredibly realistic and really captured what must have been an absolutely horrific experience for the poor workers trapped onboard.

Whilst I enjoyed their more recent collaboration on Patriot’s Day more, this was still a very good film. Peter Berg really has proven himself to be an excellent director. There was a neat little recurring conversation between Andrea and Mike that I touched upon earlier which did a good job of syncing the chaos at the end with the relative calmness at the beginning. I like when films do little things like this, the running joke about desert island artists from Green Room rings a bell, and it humanises the characters to an extent too. One criticism I have is that, having not been privy to the real life events of the characters, I’d be inclined to say this film more than likely spiced up some of the moments of tension for the Hollywood experience, but it certainly doesn’t detract any from what is an enjoyable watch.

Patriots Day (2016) Movie Review by John Walsh


Director: Peter Berg
Writers: Peter Berg (screenplay), Matt Cook (screenplay)
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Michelle Monaghan, J.K. Simmons

A tense, thrilling and at times moving re-creation of the 2013 Boston Marathon and the subsequent four day manhunt. Patriot’s Day from Peter Berg rather effectively weaves together the different perspectives of the victims and law enforcement officers involved, as well that of the two Tzarnaev brothers responsible for the hideous atrocities on that fateful day, into a single cohesive storyline.

The film begins with a quick introduction to the cocky, insubordinate, Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg); as he kicks down a door, busting his knee in the process, and deals with a case of domestic violence, involving a half naked man and an iron. It then introduces the other characters that will form the various different perspectives of the story throughout. Both Jessica Kensky (Rachel Brosnahan) and her husband Patrick Downes (Christopher O’Shea), Sergeant Pugliese (JK Simmons), Dun Meng (Jimmy O. Yang) and then finally Dzhokhar (Alex Wolff) and Tamarlan (Themo Melikidze) Tzarnaev. These fairly short introductions serve as precursor to the marathon and the attack itself, really helping to add a personal touch to what’s about to unfold.

The lead up to the attack is very well handled by Berg, with the various cuts between each of the different perspectives, not to mention the use of real footage of the day and a shaky handheld camera style, helping to really rack up the tension. Despite knowing what is about to unfold, it still hits hard when the bombs go off. The image of the explosions in the densely packed crowd had a profound effect on me and the excellent use of sound during these moments, with a brief period of high frequency static, which I’d imagine the unfortunate people there on that day must surely have experienced, really added to the sense of momentary paralysis as Tommy and the others looked on in disbelief at what was unfolding before their eyes. The immediate carnage afterwards wasn’t watered down any to avoid viewer discomfort. Blood could be seen everywhere, severe lacerations and dismembered limbs were lying on the ground, all very vividly captured and strangely more powerfully emotive within the civilian environment of downtown Boston, than if say, it was shown within a war film.

Tommy, the main focus of the film for the main, then tries to regain some control in the chaos, rushing to the aid of causalities, calling in ambulances and demanding the marathon be stopped. The first fatalities, including an eight year old boy are shown shortly afterwards, before the FBI and Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) arrive on the scene to takeover at once, and incur the wrath of Tommy instantaneously by overruling his request to move the bodies. “We got to tell the parents that their son is still lying in the fucking street? No fuck that” he rants. DesLauriers meanwhile, quickly identifies the likely terrorist connection and requests a large command centre be setup immediately from which to commence the investigation.

There’s a powerful moment when Jessica and Patrick are both stricken with severe leg injuries that ultimately lead to amputations. The former completely unaware of the severity of her own wounds, attempts to save her husbands life by fashioning a tourniquet out of a belt before both a rushed to hospital. Tommy attempts to take some short respite from the horrors he’s witnessed and has to throw relatives out of his house that are making him endure the Spanish Inquisition. His respite proves to be very short indeed though, as he gets called back to the command centre, following a breakthrough, to impart his knowledge of the Boston streets on DesLauriers, from which they retrace the bombers steps and manage to obtain photos of the pair.

Despite the discovery of the perpetrators and being in possession of relatively clear photos, DesLauriers remains unwilling to publicly blame the bombings on radical islamists through fear of backlash against other muslims. He faces heavy pressure, however, with Tommy telling him he has to “let Boston work for us” and an angry Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman) telling him that it’s his city and they should be released. The matter quickly gets taken out of their hands however when a leak to Fox News is relayed to the team and DesLauriers, visibly angry himself now, is forced to concede. With the pictures out in the public domain, the manhunt for the brothers quickly picks up in pace and they’re forced into running, not long beforehand they’d been seen watching the aftermath of the events on the news.

During the beginning stages of the manhunt, the young police officer Sean Collier (Jake Picking), seen sporadically before, is shot dead outside MIT, Dzhokhar’s college friends then discover his role in the bombings and choose not to disclose it with the police, before finally, Dun gets kidnapped and has his Mercedes Benz car highjacked by the pair. The kidnapping of Dun turns out to be the biggest mistake they could have made though, as the car has GPS tracking, and after dithering too long, and showing their complete incompetence during a stop at the gas station, Dun manages to escape and alert the police of their location. A furious firefight breaks out shortly afterwards between the brothers and two police officers, with homemade grenades being thrown, causing untold chaos. Sergeant Pugliese then has his moment, arriving on the scene and quipping in with “Yeah, no shit. I’m gonna flank them” after one of the other cops tells him they’re being shot at. A sequence of craziness that could be straight out of a Benny Hill sketch then unfolds with shots being fired, more grenades being thrown, before a downed Tamerlan fresh off a bit of wrestling with Pugliese, is run over by his escaping brother. The film then enters its finale with Dzhokhar’s hiding place being tracked to a boat in a driveway. There’s a short and tense standoff with a host of enforcement officers and FBI agents, zeroed in on his location, before finally the younger brother is smoked out and detained.

The film features strong acting performances from pretty much everyone involved,  but it’s the law enforcement characters, played by Wahlberg, Bacon, Simmons and Goodman that are the standouts. Wahlberg in particular, as you’d expect from a native Bostonian, delivers an emotionally powerful performance as Tommy. His character also has his fair share of humorous moments and dialogue, which really helps soften the overall tension and drama surrounding him. Bacon is fantastic as DesLauriers, a man grappling with political correctness and facing increasing pressure from the Boston police force to take decisive action. Goodman and Simmons are both fantastic as the charismatic commissioner and hardened Sergeant respectively. Melikidze and Wolff are more than decent as the bombers. The latter portraying the immature, idiotic, pot smoking Dzhokhar, that’s seems either detached from reality or blissfully unaware of his actions, scarily well. The former portrays his role as the older Tamerlan with a scary intenseness.

Thematically, the film focuses strongly on the bravery of the law enforcement officers, that have in recent times, taken a bit of a pounding for their heavy handed, ignorant handling of certain issues, and to be fair it does this very well. It helps remind us that these people are human and that the vast majority risk everything to protect innocents whilst doing there job every day. Another strong thematic point is the strength of the Boston spirit and how love will ultimately triumph over evil. Berg does a great job of showcasing this spirit in various different ways throughout. Renown for its toughness and strong sense of community, he perfectly captures this with the banter between the local police officers and the FBI agent working during the manhunt and also the way the citizens continually come together in the face of adversity. There’s one standout moment in particular, involving a man who throws a hammer at an officer before diving back inside his house during a heavy firefight, with pipe bombs getting thrown in all directions, provoking a look of disbelief from the officer.

A few short interviews with the real people involved in the attacks plays out before the final credits roll. The poignant completion of the Boston marathon by the real Patrick Downes, beautifully encapsulates the determination of the Boston populace.

I loved watching this film. There’s clearly been a lot of time and research done on the subject, and whilst it’s not perfect by any means, it’s tactfully handled and an enjoyable watch.