I was worried this movie would be melodramatic and sentimental, but it’s not.
Not counting credits the film is only a bit over an hour and a half long, which means it’s all the time busy getting things done. There’re no wasted moments, no detours into side plots. The clock is ticking down to disaster, and the story marches clearly forward at a steady pace.
Because events not people are the focus here, the characters don’t really need to be more than believably sympathetic outlines. Kurt Russell and Mark Wahlberg both play to type to great effect giving performances that suggest imperfect but admirably reliable men. Dylan O’Brien, inexperienced and eager, is well cast as the boy among men. You’re rooting for these guys once everything goes up in flames and genuinely nervous when fear plays across their faces.
On the other end of the spectrum, John Malkovich looks like he grew a new set of teeth to play his loathsome BP exec and his Louisiana accent is near perfect. I expected him and his pudgy colleagues to throw people out of the lifeboat at the end but they didn’t.
So I’m pleasantly surprised. The movie’s a real jaw-clencher and I think it will stand up to repeat viewings. So I’m adding it to my informal list of great disaster movies.