Fact or Fiction: Local attorney talks 'Deepwater Horizon' film

KHOU 11 reporter Larry Seward sat down with a local attorney who knows all about the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster to talk about how accurate the new Hollywood film is.

HOUSTON – Hollywood’s Deepwater Horizon film is more than a new thriller to one local attorney.

Six years ago, Dane Ball represented Bob Kaluza, a survivor of the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion.

Federal prosecutors charged Kaluza with 11 counts of manslaughter. It took Ball and his legal team 10,000 work hours to clear Kaluza’s name. Still, the film shows something else.

“Unfortunately, in a two-hour movie, you’ve got to narrow (blame for the explosion) and put them on one villain and that’s what happened,” he said.

Movie producers portrayed Ball’s client and Don Vidrine as reckless BP company men who put profits ahead of safety and got 11 men killed. Reality is different, Ball said.

“These were two good human beings who wore a hard hat and goggles and steel toe boots just like every other worker on that rig and did their best under the circumstances and ultimately took their orders from people in an office in Houston,” Ball said.

Critics saw other errors too.

For example, the employee shown in the film sounding an immediate mayday testified in real life that warning lights overwhelmed her in that moment. She actually waited a minute to 90 seconds to sound the alarm.

“Any film that takes a real life subject and dramatizes it is opening itself up to scrutinty,” said critic Matt Brennan.

However, Ball is far from disappointed in the film, he thinks the movie’s message overshadows its flaws. He called the film great, worth-seeing, exciting and almost accurate.

After watching the film a second time, Ball said he may call his client and share reviews.


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