Deepwater Horizon

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

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 14 reviews

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.

Violence

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.

Sex

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.

Language

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.

Consumerism

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
Parent Written bySamuel M. March 20, 2017

Good for most children who can handle destruction

This film is super good, the swearing is present with many uses of S*** and three uses of F*** but that is outweighed by the positive messages and role models.... Continue reading
Adult Written byNathan R. May 27, 2017
Kid, 8 years old October 16, 2016

Great movie

This movie has some bad words but it really good for 12 and up
Teen, 13 years old Written byAdam Atom October 10, 2016

Very Intense and VERY Heavy

Deepwater Horizon relies on being serious and sometimes heavy. By the end, the movie gets very sad and I can guarantee you, some may cry. This is absolutely NOT... 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

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