Like Touching the Void, this documentary relives a real-life disaster with talking heads, archive and dramatic reconstruction.
It’s very tense indeed, a diving movie set on the bottom of the North Sea where oil-rig diver Chris Lemmons was left stranded by a malfunction on the surface.
There are submersibles and giant waves, like some Mark Wahlberg movie – all that’s missing is a killer shark or similar creature from the deep. You don’t really need a monster, though – man is his own worst enemy and saviour. What are humans even doing down there?
The eco aspect is not explored, which is a shame. Admirably lean and fat-free at 85 minutes, it feels like it plays out in real time and you hold your breath for most of it. However, while the film makers instead concentrate on the mechanics of rescue and the countdown of oxygen tanks running out, it’s really about a bunch of blokes all ‘just doing their job’.
Indeed, so professional (and presumably hugely well-paid?) are they that one of them even says: “He wasn’t my best mate – shit happens” as he resigns himself to the worst. And I found myself nodding with him, as I often do in these sorts of films – it’s hardly a great shock if someone doing something ridiculously dangerous, in space or deep water or up a mountain, kops it.
I do find it interesting to know what it’s like to contemplate death, to peer into the abyss or do whatever you must to survive, and I guess you’re supposed to ask yourself what you’d do in such a situation? I already know that answer – I’m NEVER going to get into that situation in the first place. I know we humans are capable of amazing things, but i’m more impressed with people who make films, or write novels, paint flowers or improvise free jazz than I am with people who get their cables in a twist on the sea bed extracting oil for a shady corporation.