While the coastal population of Louisiana is still recovering from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in 2010, Hollywood has clearly decided that the mourning period is over. To be fair, Deepwater Horizon does come with a veneer of seriousness, ending with a sober tribute to the 11 crewmen killed in the blast. But it also works a treat for anyone in the audience who just wants to see a bunch of stuff blown up.
Mark Wahlberg stars as Mike Williams, a square-jawed hero straight out of the Bruce Springsteen playbook: the blue-collar family man who stands up to the big boys, speaks his piece and is shouted down. Doing the shouting is John Malkovich, on outrageous scenery-chewing form as the villainous oil executive who ignores the warning signs and allows things to go too far. It’s not a question of if everything will all go bang, but when – and how loudly.
Very, very loudly, as it turns out, and when the oil catches fire, so does Deepwater Horizon. Directed by Peter Berg, the action is ferocious, fast and bloody – one memorable scene with Kurt Russell’s plant foreman and a plate-glass shower door will have you squirming with horror. But it’s quite a long way from believable, especially when Wahlberg starts leaping from high platforms like a grimy, Lycra-less Batman. Accusations of tastelessness are bound to come, with some justification – if your priority is to respect the dead, why hire the director of Battleship?