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Film releases: Explosion of chaos and courage

Deepwater Horizon (12A, 107mins)

By Damon Smith

Engineer Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) kisses his beautiful wife Felicia (Kate Hudson) goodbye before he boards a helicopter to the BP-owned and operated drilling platform Deepwater Horizon located approximately 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana.

Other passengers include installation manager Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) and third mate Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez). Once they land, Jimmy becomes concerned that BP officials, including well site leader Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich), have not carried out sufficient checks to ensure the drill is operating safely. Jimmy orders a test, which brings back concerning yet inconclusive results and reluctantly he gives the go ahead to continue drilling.

Crew members including Jason Anderson (Ethan Suplee) and Caleb Holloway (Dylan O'Brien) attempt to make up for lost time, but a massive blowout tears through the 121-metre long rig.

Survivors of the initial blast race against time to lower lifeboats into the water before flames engulf the entire structure

Deepwater Horizon captures the chaos of that fateful day, and the courage of men and women who risked their lives to save friends and co-workers from the rig's twisted metal.

Free State of Jones (15, 140mins)

In October 1862, Newton (Matthew McConaughey) is serving as a medic in the Confederate Army and witnesses a local boy being shot on the front line. Horrified by this senseless loss of an innocent life, Newton abandons his post and returns home to Jones County with the boy's body to perform a proper burial.

The threat of capture as a deserter exerts intolerable strain on his relationship with his wife Serena (Keri Russell) and Newton eventually flees into nearby swamps, where he befriends runaway slaves including Rachel (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Moses (Mahershala Ali). They live quietly off the land, hoping not to draw the attention of sadistic Lieutenant Barbour (Brad Carter) and his soldiers. When Newton learns that Confederate troops are seizing crops and livestock from hard-working farmers, he stages a rebellion and the ranks of the so-called 'Free State of Jones' swell.

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So too does Lieutenant Barbour's resolve to crush the uprising, which leads to a series of violent skirmishes that saturate the arid soil with the blood on both sides. Running to a gruelling 140 minutes, Free State of Jones is a slog and pacing errs towards the pedestrian, even in sporadic battle sequences.

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