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Deepwater Horizon (2016) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • A dramatization of the disaster in April 2010, when the offshore drilling rig called the Deepwater Horizon exploded, resulting in the worst oil spill in American history.

  • In April 2010, there is no oil exploration operation in the Gulf of Mexico to compare with the Deepwater Horizon oil rig with its size or sheer depth of its drilling. However, the project for the BP oil company is beset with technical difficulties to the point where the general operational supervisor, Jimmy Harrell, and his Chief Electrical Engineer, Mike Williams, are concerned potentially dangerous trouble is brewing. Unfortunately, visiting BP executives, frustrated by the project's long delays, order curtailed site inspections and slanted system tests to make up for lost time even as Harrell, Williams and his team helplessly protest for the sake of proper safety. On April 20, the workers' fears are realized in the worst possible way when the rig's various structural and system flaws spark a catastrophic cascade of failures that would create a massive blowout and explosion that threatens them all, even as it also begins the worst environmental disaster in US history.

  • When the superintendent Jimmy Harrell and the chief of maintenance Mike Williams disembark on board of the Transocean semisubmersible offshore drilling rig "Deepwater Horizon", they are surprised with the information that the Schlumberger people had not conducted the pressure test in the deep water cement.to confirm the wellbore integrity. The BP representative Donald Vidrine had sent them home to save money. Jimmy decides to run tests but Vidrine believes the result is a problem in the sensor and orders to open the well. However the cement does not resist and there is a blowup with tragic consequences.

  • In the Gulf of Mexico, 41 miles south-east of the Louisiana Coast, lies the Deepwater Horizon, a semi-submersible offshore oil drilling rig, which is free-floating over the Gulf floor and manned by 126 crew members on board. Among the personnel is Chief Electronics Technician Mike Williams and the seasoned rig supervisor Jimmy Harrell who are surprised to discover that the standard procedure regarding the cement foundation, the only thing between the rig and a blowout, has been bypassed by orders of BP's executives Donald Vidrine and Robert Kaluza. Without a clue about the stability of the well and whether the concrete's integrity has been compromised or not, but above all, with the intention to cut expenses, the greedy managers push to start pumping and before long, disaster strikes. Eventually, as the foundation fails utterly, an endless chain of malfunctions transforms the Deepwater Horizon into a blazing inferno leaving the men defenceless, while Williams and Harrell heroically struggle to rescue their shipmates in the worst oil disaster in the U.S. history that lasted 87 days.

  • In April 2010 the exploration oil rig Deepwater Horizon, stationed in the Gulf of Mexico, suffered a catastrophic disaster, exploding and being set on fire. This is the story of the lead-up to the disaster, the disaster itself and the individual actions involved, and the aftermath.

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  • On April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon, an oil drilling rig operated by private contractor Transocean, is set to begin drilling off the southern coast of Louisiana on behalf of BP. Chief Electronics Technician Michael "Mike" Williams and Offshore Installation Manager James "Mr. Jimmy" Harrell are surprised to learn that the workers assigned to test the integrity of recently completed cement work are being sent home early, without conducting a cement bond log (CBL), at the insistence of BP managers Donald Vidrine and Robert Kaluza. While Mike prepares the drilling team, including Caleb Holloway, Harrell meets with Vidrine and persuades him to conduct a test, which only serves to weaken the already poorly placed cement further. His patience thinning, and without waiting for Harrell to confirm the results, Vidrine orders the well to be flowed.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • The film opens with actual recorded audio of a hearing from Mike Williams' testimony following the real-life aftermath of events that inspired this film.

    Mike (Mark Wahlberg) wakes up to hear his wife Felicia (Kate Hudson) describe a dream she has in which a large rabbit is mimicking her every move. She believes the rabbit was her mother, whom Mike doesn't seem to have liked. After the two get dressed, they listen to their daughter Sydney's (Stella Allen) presentation on Mike that she is set to do for her class. Sydney talks about her dad working on an oil rig and that he "tames the dinosaurs". She asks her dad to bring her back a dinosaur tooth so she can back that statement up.

    Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez) is on her way to work, but her car won't start. She tries to fix it, but the engine craps out on her. Her boyfriend gives her a ride on his motorcycle.

    Mike and Andrea arrive at a base to be taken to the offshore oil well, Deepwater Horizon. Joining them are a number of men, including Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell). The whole crew is brought to the well, just as another team is leaving after they were supposed to be doing a cement log. The main crew isn't happy with the other team's departure.

    While everyone does their job, one of Mike's co-workers presents him with a real dino tooth to bring home to Sydney. He is extremely thankful.

    Jimmy meets with the bosses, Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich) and Robert Kaluza (Brad Leland), to discuss the other team leaving before completing the cement log. Jimmy wants to do a negative pressure test on the rig to make sure things are running smoothly. They let him proceed after much back-and-forth.

    The crew working by the drill perform the test on the drill pipe, resulting in a pressure of 1395. Don then has them do a test from the kill line this time, with significantly safer results. The crew then starts to pump out the mud from the system. A large buildup of mud gathers into the pipe, causing it to burst and push the crew off their feet with the blowback. The technicians manage to stop the mud from spewing. However, moments later, the earth shakes and another burst of mud spews through the hole. Methane gasses begin to rise and add pressure until the pipe can't take it anymore, and the result is a powerful explosion that sets fire to the whole rig. Jimmy is injured while taking a shower, and Mike gets knocked backwards after talking to Felicia on Skype.

    The drill crew work frantically to try and contain the situation, but some of the men are killed from the explosion. Mike works with one technician, Caleb Holloway (Dylan O'Brien), in getting the men out of the rig and onto a lifeboat. Off the rig, Andrea tries to call a mayday, but she is reprimanded for her actions without authorization.

    The coast guard is alerted to the situation, while Felicia learns about the fire, and she begins to worry for her husband's life.

    Mike finds Jimmy severely injured with a beat-up eye and a bad foot after a huge shard of glass got stuck in it. Mike carries him upwards to safety, but the lifeboat is full and has taken off without them. Luckily, the coast guard has arrived and has started taking the remaining crew members with them, but another explosion prevents Mike and Andrea from making it with them. They have to climb to a higher level amid the flames in order to jump and make it safely to the boat. Andrea is too terrified to make the jump, even as Mike tries to get her to go. With no choice, he grabs Andrea and pushes her off the rig with her life jacket on. Mike jumps afterwards as well. The two are pulled to safety. The crew is then taken away as the rig continues to burn and sink.

    The survivors are given medical treatment. Mike is swarmed by reporters outside a hotel, and he is shoved against a wall by a distressed man asking him if his son got off the rig. Mike goes up to his room and breaks down as he tries to take a shower. Felicia and Sydney enter the room to hold him tight. Mike gives Sydney the tooth. Afterwards, Mike and his family leave as he watches Andrea and Caleb reunite with their loved ones, while Jimmy walks in on crutches. Mike and Felicia hug him too.

    We see actual footage of Mike Williams, Andrea Fleytas, and James Harrell giving testimonies in the aftermath of the disaster. Williams never returned to sea and lives in Texas with his family. Fleytas lives in California and no longer works in the oil industry. Harrell continues to work for Transocean. Donald Vidrine and Robert Kaluza were indicted on manslaughter charges, but they were later settled. The resulting oil spill lasted 87 days and spilled over 210 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico, making it the worst oil disaster in history. 11 crew members were reported dead, and the film concludes by paying tribute to those men.

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