Warning: this post contains spoilers for the movie Deepwater Horizon.
Deepwater Horizon ends with a moment of extreme heroism. Left behind on a giant burning oil rig, electronics technician Mike Williams, played with everyman restraint by Mark Wahlberg, looks down at the flaming water of the Gulf of Mexico with fear in his eyes. He gives an inspirational pep talk to a terrified young female crew member named Andrea (Jane the Virgin's Gina Rodriguez), then throws her off the rig. He follows with a climatic jump of his own, dodging fire and debris as he plummets hundreds of feet into the ocean below.
Like many moments in director Peter Berg's disaster film, it's exciting, terrifying, emotionally overwhelming, and a little over the top. A movie like Deepwater Horizon walks a tricky tonal line: on one hand, newspaper coverage of the real-life incident crackles like an explosive action movie. To adapt it, Berg leans into these Hollywood-friendly moments, and risks disrespecting the men who lost their lives in this tragedy. There were parts of Deepwater Horizon where I half-expected The Rock to arrive with his rescue helicopter from San Andreas, or the kaiju from Pacific Rim to break through the trembling ocean floor. The joke-filled, tough-guy worker banter will undoubtedly remind some of Bruce Willis' gang of oil-drilling roughnecks from Armageddon. It's inevitable. But even if high-flying scenes depict true events, fickle audiences can still believe they're fake.