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Movie Review

'Deepwater Horizon' Offers Big Orange Explosions

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With Deepwater Horizon, Hollywood just about reaches its ultimate goal: a movie that consists simply of one long series of orange explosions, black smoke, and quick-cut action violence.

About the first forty minutes consists of neatly arranged exposition about the safety system of the Deepwater Horizon oil operation in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. This section never makes clear much about the system except that it must have been humongously hugs and complicated for so many things to go wrong with it; you don't know exactly what's going wrong with it, but it looks as if it's one of those systems that is perfect in theory except that it has to be run by people who aren't perfect people never have enough money or time, and even the provisions on the shelves are facing the wrong direction. But then the system blows its top, and from that moment I defy you to take your eyes off the screen.

The trouble is that the last half or so of Deepwater Horizon is like one of those endless movie fights that are edited together out of snippets of action that add up to excitement but not much clarity; we seldom know exactly what Mark Wahlberg and Kurt Russell and Gina Rodriguez are trying to accomplish, and there's little sense of forward movement going anywhere.

In the end, I wanted to know what became of the oil corporation and the only upper-level character we see much of, John Malkovich, who may or may not be largely responsible for the disaster; the little notes in the end titles don't tell us much, in spite of all the problems we were told about at the start.

But all some moviegoers seems to care about is big orange explosions, and I don't know any movie that offers more of those.