The film opens with actual recorded audio of a hearing from Mike Williams' testimony following the real-life aftermath of events that inspired this film.
Mike (Mark Wahlberg) wakes up to hear his wife Felicia (Kate Hudson) describe a dream she has in which a large rabbit is mimicking her every move. She believes the rabbit was her mother, whom Mike doesn't seem to have liked. After the two get dressed, they listen to their daughter Sydney's (Stella Allen) presentation on Mike that she is set to do for her class. Sydney talks about her dad working on an oil rig and that he "tames the dinosaurs". She asks her dad to bring her back a dinosaur tooth so she can back that statement up.
Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez) is on her way to work, but her car won't start. She tries to fix it, but the engine craps out on her. Her boyfriend gives her a ride on his motorcycle.
Mike and Andrea arrive at a base to be taken to the offshore oil well, Deepwater Horizon. Joining them are a number of men, including Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell). The whole crew is brought to the well, just as another team is leaving after they were supposed to be doing a cement log. The main crew isn't happy with the other team's departure.
While everyone does their job, one of Mike's co-workers presents him with a real dino tooth to bring home to Sydney. He is extremely thankful.
Jimmy meets with the bosses, Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich) and Robert Kaluza (Brad Leland), to discuss the other team leaving before completing the cement log. Jimmy wants to do a negative pressure test on the rig to make sure things are running smoothly. They let him proceed after much back-and-forth.
The crew working by the drill perform the test on the drill pipe, resulting in a pressure of 1395. Don then has them do a test from the kill line this time, with significantly safer results. The crew then starts to pump out the mud from the system. A large buildup of mud gathers into the pipe, causing it to burst and push the crew off their feet with the blowback. The technicians manage to stop the mud from spewing. However, moments later, the earth shakes and another burst of mud spews through the hole. Methane gasses begin to rise and add pressure until the pipe can't take it anymore, and the result is a powerful explosion that sets fire to the whole rig. Jimmy is injured while taking a shower, and Mike gets knocked backwards after talking to Felicia on Skype.
The drill crew work frantically to try and contain the situation, but some of the men are killed from the explosion. Mike works with one technician, Caleb Holloway (Dylan O'Brien), in getting the men out of the rig and onto a lifeboat. Off the rig, Andrea tries to call a mayday, but she is reprimanded for her actions without authorization.
The coast guard is alerted to the situation, while Felicia learns about the fire, and she begins to worry for her husband's life.
Mike finds Jimmy severely injured with a beat-up eye and a bad foot after a huge shard of glass got stuck in it. Mike carries him upwards to safety, but the lifeboat is full and has taken off without them. Luckily, the coast guard has arrived and has started taking the remaining crew members with them, but another explosion prevents Mike and Andrea from making it with them. They have to climb to a higher level amid the flames in order to jump and make it safely to the boat. Andrea is too terrified to make the jump, even as Mike tries to get her to go. With no choice, he grabs Andrea and pushes her off the rig with her life jacket on. Mike jumps afterwards as well. The two are pulled to safety. The crew is then taken away as the rig continues to burn and sink.
The survivors are given medical treatment. Mike is swarmed by reporters outside a hotel, and he is shoved against a wall by a distressed man asking him if his son got off the rig. Mike goes up to his room and breaks down as he tries to take a shower. Felicia and Sydney enter the room to hold him tight. Mike gives Sydney the tooth. Afterwards, Mike and his family leave as he watches Andrea and Caleb reunite with their loved ones, while Jimmy walks in on crutches. Mike and Felicia hug him too.
We see actual footage of Mike Williams, Andrea Fleytas, and James Harrell giving testimonies in the aftermath of the disaster. Williams never returned to sea and lives in Texas with his family. Fleytas lives in California and no longer works in the oil industry. Harrell continues to work for Transocean. Donald Vidrine and Robert Kaluza were indicted on manslaughter charges, but they were later settled. The resulting oil spill lasted 87 days and spilled over 210 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico, making it the worst oil disaster in history. 11 crew members were reported dead, and the film concludes by paying tribute to those men.
*CUT TO THE CHASE*
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The Deepwater Horizon oil rig explodes after a massive methane buildup blows the pipes. 11 men die, and the oil spill that followed marked the worst oil disaster in history.
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