Deepwater Horizon

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Deepwater Horizon Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Thrilling tale of heroism during deadly oil rig explosion.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 97 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 18 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie explores the importance of selflessness and courage during times of crisis -- and how people are more important than profit. Other themes include perseverance and integrity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mr. Jimmy looks out for his crew and demands that safety protocols and tests be followed. Several characters sacrifice their own safety to help colleagues. Mike goes back to look for others who may not have made it out and personally helps someone jump off the rig. Andrea tries to shut down the rig when it's clear that's what needs to be done. BP executives are portrayed as caring more about profits than people.


The oil rig explosion kills 11 people. The scenes leading up to those deaths show how horrible the situation was, with people nearly drowning in oil, getting serious injuries from being thrown across rooms, and then not being able to survive explosions. Survivors are bloodied and bruised and deal with the post-traumatic stress of living when their colleagues did not. Some people panic and shut down in the face of the danger, while others focus on getting off the rig even if it means jumping into the water or pushing themselves onto a lifeboat.


In the opening scene, a married couple wakes up, kisses, and has goodbye sex. There's no nudity, and the camera focuses on the kissing. Bare shoulders and legs are visible.


Words include "s--t," one "f--king," and occasional "goddamn it," "bitch," "damn," "hell," "stupid," and "ass." Swearing frequency increases once the danger level escalates.


Product placements include Ford Mustang, V-Tech, Dell, Ducati, Ford F-150, Bristow helicopter, Toyota, Coca-Cola.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One toast at a reception.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Deepwater Horizon is an action drama based on the real-life 2010 explosion of a BP oil rig that led to 11 deaths and the greatest oil spill in history. Directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg, the movie should appeal to teens and adults who enjoy life-and-death stories that involve acts of heroism, courage, and sacrifice. The events leading up to the explosion can be frightening, and the action sequences are both intense and thrilling, especially since -- unlike the somewhat similar The Perfect Storm -- it's not clear who will and won't survive. The language includes many uses of "s--t" (plus some other words), and an early love scene shows kissing and bare shoulders/legs.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byNathan R. May 27, 2017
Parent Written byspecies2234 April 2, 2021

Don't underestimate the intensity!

It's hard to really capture the intensity of this film so I'll just tell you a story.

I started this when I was tired, and it was late in the afterno... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byEl.4nier April 7, 2020

Touching movie! Quite intense

This movie explains the work of a normal citizen on an oil rig. The movie begins normally (a bit of kissing and sensuality, nothing a child can’t handle). Howev... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bypeopleparlor April 10, 2020

Excellent but Disturbing

Deepwater Horizon is an excellent movie about an oil rig disaster that took place in 2010. This movie is accurate and the acting is excellent. Although there is... Continue reading

What's the story?

DEEPWATER HORIZON is based on the real events leading up to the BP oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010. The movie, directed by Peter Berg, focuses on a few of the heroes of the day. They're the supervisors and technicians who risked their lives for others' safety, including electrical technician Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), who has a wife (Kate Hudson) and daughter to go home to; crew chief "Mr. Jimmy" (Kurt Russell); and one of the only women on the rig, Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez). The villains of the story are the BP company men who seemed to care more about profit than people's safety. They're led by Vidrine (John Malkovich), who orders Jimmy to go ahead and drill despite the chief's safety concerns.

Is it any good?

Despite knowing the story's tragic outcome, audiences will be totally caught up in Berg's tribute to how ordinary people proved extraordinary during the 2010 BP oil rig explosion. Even though a lot of the technical dialogue will go over most viewers' head, the script seems very realistic and, at first, like a typical workplace drama. But there's an underlying tension to every scene of Deepwater Horizon as moviegoers wonder exactly when disaster will strike. Besides Mike's home life and one quick glimpse of Andrea's boyfriend, nobody gets much personal development. Because the story's not about the people they'll return to, but about those they worked and survived (or died) with on the rig.

It's easy to turn corporations into bad guys, but Berg manages to do it without oversimplifying the situation. Malkovich, using a Louisiana drawl, glibly explains why BP needs the crew to drill -- and why the borderline safety test results are just good enough to ignore. Of course, it's the company men's profit-driven decisions that lead to the disaster, and the fact that they all survive may remind you of how the White Star execs all got on the lifeboats in Titanic. Berg is very talented at portraying disaster and exploring the heroism of those who show courage under fire, and he doesn't disappoint.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the scary, tense scenes in Deepwater Horizon. Do you consider them violent? What's the difference in impact between what you see in a movie like this and what you might see in a superhero or horror movie?

  • How do the characters demonstrate courage, perseverance, and integrity? Why are those important character strengths?

  • How close do you think the movie is to the real story? Why might filmmakers change the facts in movies based on real-life events? Does the movie make you interested in learning more about what happened?

  • Why do you think movies based on real tragic events are so compelling, even if audiences (theoretically) know how they end? How can fact-based movies maintain/encourage suspense? Does it matter if you know what's going to happen?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate