Deepwater Horizon – Mike Williams, Jimmy Harrell and the crew of the oil rig, ‘Deepwater Horizon’, struggle to have their safety concerns listened to by BP executives who are worried about the cost of long delays, dismissing what they believe to be minor issues. Reluctantly agreeing to temporarily halt operations, the initial checks suggest they can continue as normal but when the pressure builds to dangerous levels, the rig suddenly fails, causing a massive explosion that endangers the lives of everyone on board.

Deepwater Horizon (2016) – Director: Peter Berg

Is Deepwater Horizon appropriate for kids

By Source, Fair use,

Rating: 12

Running Length: 107 mins

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich

Genre: Disaster


Based on the true story of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and worst oil spill in US history, ‘Deepwater Horizon’ explores what actually happened on April 20th, 2010. While most people will remember the environmental disaster that followed, the spill somewhat overshadowed the tragedy the started it all. Of 126 lives on board the rig, tragically 11 were lost; introducing enough of these characters to do their real-life counterparts justice was a tall order but managed well so that the audiences’ sympathies are well placed and while there are heroics, no-one becomes more than an ordinary person, forced into an extreme situation.

While he may be the main character, thankfully ‘Deepwater Horizon’ isn’t simply a vehicle for Mark Wahlberg. His character’s position on the rig firmly places him at the centre of the action but he isn’t the only one who proves to be a hero when under extreme pressure. The movie is careful to show realism both before the incident and afterwards, everyone has their motives and poignancy and respect is given to the real people behind the characterisations. While the cinematography is excellent, it is strange that so many shots unnecessarily (and obnoxiously) feature the US flag surviving against the flames which have claimed less fortunate people; patriotic symbolism is all well and good but being repeatedly punched in the face with it gets a little tiresome after a while!

True story disaster flicks can often struggle to maintain believability, making A-listers almost superhuman in their abilities and bravery but ‘Deepwater Horizon’ manages to remain believable. With the camerawork being at eye level and directly in the centre of the action, audiences are brought into the excitement and panic felt by those experiencing it. It has to be said that ‘Deepwater Horizon’ isn’t a documentary nd therefore the direction is pushed towards an ‘entertainment’ style, however it is exciting, touching and respectful which is exactly what is expected of it.


Early in the movie, a woman lies in bed with her husband, she wears a tight-fitted t-shirt and underwear which shows off most of her naked bottom. The pair flirt with each other (there is some innuendo) and they kiss passionately, no sex is seen and the dialogue makes it clear that there is no time for them to become physical.

There is frequent moderate cursing throughout the movie which is unavoidable and one strong word is used in general conversation. While strong language may be somewhat expected in this kind of setting (especially when all hell breaks loose), parents may not be happy for children to be hearing this amount of bad language.

When the disaster first starts. pressure forces oil and mud at high speeds up the drill which covers several men who are standing in the vicinity, their bodies are entirely covered in the substance which, including their faces which causes them to struggle to breathe. In another scene, several men are thrown around a room, hitting walls hard and hurt badly; another man is thrown across a room when he is in a shower. This causes him to be badly hurt, one of his eyes is so swollen that it is forced closed and he pulls a large shard of glass out of his foot, this is done in close-up and there is quite a bit of blood. Later, another man has a broken leg, a piece of the bone sticks out and gets caught on some metal, in order to try to rescue him, another character is forced to manipulate the bone, causing the man to scream in pain.

There are numerous other injuries sustained and some deaths, however they are of a similar strength to what has been described above.


‘Deepwater Horizon’ puts a human perspective on a very recent real-life tragic disaster that may not have happened had safety been taken more seriously than money. This is most definitely aiming for a mature audience and does not pull any punches with the catastrophe in bother fear factor and injuries that are sustained by characters. We fee that the content should be appropriate for most kids aged nine and over although we recommend caution for those who may become upset upon realising that this is based on true events.

  • Violence: 4/5 (lots of intensity throughout; there are explosions, fires breakout and people are badly injured or killed)
  • Emotional Distress: 3/5 (several people are killed, a register is taken to establish survivors. When certain names are called and there is no reply, everyone becomes sombre and downcast. One character suffers mentally following their rescue and collapses to the floor, sobbing)
  • Fear Factor: 3/5 (after the action starts, the movie is incredibly tense and is always unclear whether certain characters will survive. A bird hits the window of a helicopter, providing a jump-scare)
  • Sexual Content: 2/5
  • Bad Language: 5/5
  • Dialogue: 0/5
  • Other Notes: Deals with themes of courage, heroism, the human side of an environmental disaster, greed, the importance of listening to experts, family, determination and survival.

Words by Laura Record

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