When Hollywood makes a formula popcorn disaster movie out of a real-world tragedy, it can come off as crass and tone-deaf. Fortunately, "Deepwater Horizon" avoids that by keeping the focus where it needs to be: the human element.
When we look back on the largest oil spill in U.S. history six years ago, the environmental fallout tends to be at the forefront. And while the movie hints at those consequences, it's more concerned with the 125 workers on board and the eleven lives lost in the explosion.
Mark Wahlberg is excellent as Mike Williams - the emotional center of the movie with a wife and daughter waiting for him at home. And Kate Hudson makes the most of her brief scenes. Kurt Russell might break your heart as Mr. Jimmy, the seasoned and knowing crew leader who senses danger aboard, and John Malkovich is pure slime as a BP suit willing to cut corners in the name of the bottom line.
When the explosion happens, it's not a super cool special effects show. Director Peter Berg makes it horrifying - giving us a sense of what it might have been like on board with handheld camera work.
You'd be justified walking out of this movie outraged at the corporate greed that caused this tragedy and the injustice that followed. But for me, it was more about compassion for the victims and their families. It's that human element of the storytelling that makes "Deepwater Horizon" such an effectively harrowing and even healing journey.