How well do you think they lived up to the real event?
As all of us know, this is a very recent event in history. I think the challege here is to be relevant with so much of the story in the public eye already and how to make it exciting knowing how the story will unfold at a high-level. In 10 years this will be an exciting tale to tell to a younger generation not aware of this event on the news, so I think the director and actors like Mark Wahlberg playing Mike Williams are playing an important historical documentation role as well as creating an exciting movie.
Are they other characters well developed?
Another nice story they develop in the beginning is of Andrea Fleytas played by Gina Rodriguez. They show her rebuilding a broken old Mustang while her boyfriend kids her about his well built Ducati motorcycle. This gets to the idea that the roughnecks are part of a highly technical crew with pride in their mechanic knowledge. Mike Williams in the story gives her advice in the film about how they could repair the Mustang as they try to survive the burning wreck of the oil rig. She also gets to show the true fear of survival locks up her from trying to survive while Mike is able to convince her to keep going.
I think in a story like this, you really need to have the sets, costumes and lifestyles of the characters to pull this off. The director chose to use a 85% scale model of the real rig, which is just mind-blowing thinking of the expense to design something this large, but crucial to make for a realistic set. Additionally, they went through scrapyards to find real pieces of oil rigs to make the set. Keep in mind BP wasn't going to supply them any oil rig as they wanted the story to go away as soon as possible. They used 3.2 million tons of steel, which took 8 months of welding to constuct.
This was handled by Kurt Russel playing off the rig manager Jimmy, the good guy, going up against the profit analyst higher up BP manager Vidrine, played by John Malkovich. I think the showdown between these personalities captures the build to the climax well as the real challenges faced by huge multinational companies of the size of 79,000 by BP and 9100 employees of Transocean in complex oil finding, oil drilling and oil extraction partnerships these operations handle.
The one surprise is that the oil rig is actually a ship that floats on the surface and can go to multiple sites. The Deepwater Horizon was actually a very successful rig and model of safety for BP before the oil spill disaster due to management pushing an aggressive drilling schedule to keep costs to a minimum. The oil rig was the largest of its size to date and had successfully discovered 3 large oil fields: Kaskida, TIber and Macondo projects. Another surprising fact is the rig was registered in Panama and later the Mariana Islands. In the 1920s the over-regulation of ports of call in the US forced ship owners to start to register in other countries getting around onerous union rules in the US. Panama, Mariana Islands and Liberia account for 40% of all tonnage registered as flag of convenience.
Another interesting facet is they don't cover the inept BP CEO response at all. Although this doesn't really take away from the story at all and gives the viewer the sense of the political battles between these large partnerships boiled down to one rig's story. One of the funniest takes on the BP CEO Tony Hayward's response was on South Park.