Deepwater Horizon: The Movie


Peter Berg’s Deepwater Horizon (trailer) premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, so I had a chance to see it before it hits theatres at the end of this month.

It was a bit difficult for me to enjoy this movie, but that’s just because I know the story quite well. I’ve read the report, taught the case a bunch of times, wrote about the accident, and am writing about it again. When you know all the plot twists that are coming, a film is just not that interesting. So I will let more qualified others comment on its merits as a piece of entertainment.

But I do want to say that the film did a nice job of covering the main themes of the event and (some of) its causes. It’s a Hollywood disaster movie, rather than a documentary, so one shouldn’t expect a perfect coverage of all the details. But the essence of the disaster is quite well captured, from the relationship between BP and Transocean to the disturbing scene (and a compelling illustration of confirmation bias in action) when the negative pressure test is redone because it doesn’t initially provide the “right” result.

So it’s worth watching. And if you’re looking for a more in-depth, scholarly analysis–something more Harvard than Hollywood–check out Deepwater Horizon: A Systems Analysis of the Macondo Disaster (by Earl Boebert & James Blossom; Harvard University Press), which also came out this month.