Reel Reviews

‘Deepwater Horizon’

A-III – adults


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A gripping drama of real life

A forceful, fact-based chronicle of calamity, “Deepwater Horizon” (Summit) is an admirable and well-crafted spectacle for grownups – with the background assets of a solid, positively portrayed marriage and some incidental religious elements. Nonetheless, it’s not an easy picture to watch.

About the 2010 loss in the Gulf of Mexico of the Deepwater drilling rig, the movie focuses on a quartet of notables led by Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), the vessel’s chief electronics technician. Kate Hudson plays Felicia, Mike’s worried wife back on shore; Kurt Russell is Jimmy Harrell, aka “Mr. Jimmy,” the craft’s respected crew commander; and Gina Rodriguez fills the role of Andrea Fleytas, the young officer responsible for keeping the vast, free-floating structure in position.

The tense opening scenes find visiting corporate executive Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich) pushing back against the safety concerns expressed by both Mike and Mr. Jimmy – only to find himself, in short order, caught up in one of the worst man-made catastrophes in history. Following the “blowout,” the race for survival against shooting flames, sudden explosions and deadly flying debris is fueled by self-sacrificing heroism and courage.

The bloody wounds and wrenching situations to which viewers are exposed along the way are no doubt faithful to reality, but they involve some harrowing sights. There is compelling acting from both Wahlberg and Rodriguez, each portraying an ordinary person suddenly forced to cope with destruction on a titanic scale.

Mike is shown blessing himself as he starts the helicopter ride that will bring him out to the rig for his three-week shift. There’s an irony in this since the dangers of flying turn out, of course, to be the least of his worries. Additionally, the movie’s wrap-up includes a spontaneous recitation of the Our Father by all the survivors.

Between these two faith-tinged moments, however, we’re reminded that people facing imminent death tend to use the S-word a lot.

The film contains pervasive, sometimes gory, disaster violence, a scene of nongraphic marital lovemaking, about a half-dozen uses of profanity and frequent crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.


A-III – adults


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An honorable man

Putting Tom Hanks in the cockpit as everybody’s favorite aviator, Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, and bringing Clint Eastwood on board to direct him certainly sounds like a formula for high-flying success. And so it proves with “Sully” (Warner Bros.), Eastwood’s satisfying adaptation of Sullenberger’s memoir, Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters.

Hanks is in his element conveying the understated heroism of the aviator whose 2009 feat in landing his plane on the Hudson River after it was crippled by a bird strike — and saving all 155 persons on board in the process — gained him instant fame.

Even as the public was embracing him as a hero, however, behind the scenes Sullenberger was being second-guessed by a team of federal investigators led by somberly suspicious Charles Porter (Mike O’Malley). In fact, the early stages of the National Transportation Safety Board’s inquiry seemed to suggest that the aircraft’s engines had not been totally disabled, as Sullenberger asserted, and that a much safer landing could have been made at any one of three nearby airports.

It’s these hidden events, together with Sullenberger’s torturous self-doubt, that lend the drama an element of suspense, despite the universal familiarity of its protagonist’s exploit. They also inspire Eastwood to maintain a surprisingly sober tone, the enjoyable flashes of wit in Todd Komarnicki’s script notwithstanding.

What emerges is the portrait of a morally deep-rooted and honorable man with a heartfelt concern for those in his charge. Other facets of his fine character are revealed by his appreciative attitude toward his co-pilot, Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart), with whom he rapidly forms a friendship, and the mutually supportive love he shares with his wife, Lorrie (Laura Linney). Despite some salty language in the dialogue, these ethical assets make “Sully” possibly acceptable for older adolescents.

The film contains potentially disturbing scenes of peril and destruction, at least one use each of profanity and the F-word as well as about a dozen crude or crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

By John Mulderig, Catholic News Service

Monthly List of Recent Film Ratings (June 2015)

CNS classifications: A-I: general patronage; A-II: adults and adolescents; A-III: adults; L: limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling; O: morally offensive.
MPAA ratings: G: general audiences. All ages admitted; PG: parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children; PG-13: parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13; R: restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian; NC-17: no one 17 and under admitted.

The Age of Adaline, A-III (PG-13)
Aloha, A-II (PG-13)
Avengers: Age of Ultron, A-III (PG-13)
The Awakening, A-III (R)
Begin Again, A-III (R)
Chappie, L (R)
Child 44, A-III (R)
Cinderella, A-I (PG)
The D Train, O (R)
Danny Collins, A-III (R)
The Divergent Series: Insurgent, A-III (PG-13)
Do You Believe?, A-II (PG-13)
Dream House, L (PG-13)
The DUFF, A-III (PG-13)
Ex Machina, O (R)
Far from the Madding Crowd, A-II (PG-13)
Focus, L (R)
Furious 7, A-III (PG-13)
Get Hard, O (R)
The Gunman, L (R)
Home, A-I (PG)
Hot Pursuit, A-III (PG-13)
It Follows, O (R)
Jupiter Ascending, A-III (PG-13)
Kingsman: The Secret Service, A-III (R)
The Last Exorcism Part II, L (PG-13)
The Lazarus Effect, A-III (PG-13)
Little Boy, A-II (PG-13)
The Longest Ride, A-III (PG-13)
Mad Max: Fury Road, L (R)
Marie's Story, A-II (not rated)
McFarland, USA, A-II (PG)
Monkey Kingdom, A-I (G)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, A-I (PG)
Pitch Perfect 2, A-III (PG-13)
Poltergeist, A-III (PG-13)
Project Almanac, A-III (PG-13)
The Pyramid, A-III (R)
Run All Night, L (R)
San Andreas, A-III (PG-13)
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, A-III (PG)
Seventh Son, A-II (PG-13)
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, A-I (PG)
Tomorrowland, A-II (PG)
The Trip to Italy, A-III (not rated)
True Story, A-III (R)
Unfinished Business, O (R)
Unfriended, O (R)
The Water Diviner, A-III (R)
Woman in Gold, A-II (PG-13)

Copyright (c) 2015 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops