The 33 Movie Review

In 2010, thirty-three miners were trapped underground inside the San Jose Mine in Chile for 69 days. Based on true events, THE 33 follows the miraculous story surrounding this major mining disaster.

Anyone who remembers the story of these poor men, knows just how inspiring and incredible this ultimately positive event was.  Positive because of the lives saved and ignoring the neglect that occurred leading up to and following the disaster. The worry these men and their families went through, not knowing if they will see their loved ones again is massive.  Keeping their faith in God, the men and families united together and somehow persevered to stay alive through hope.  This is a message that I can always get behind and easily recommend for all to see.

Antonio Banderas in The 33

However, the execution of this positive message, I’m afraid, came up lacking in many ways. Told more as a made for TV movie, THE 33 lacks some of the skills necessary for a featured film.  The tension and excitement are nearly obsolete for such an amazing story.  Director Patricia Riggen doesn’t help the story, giving minimal effort from behind the lens only to choose cliche techniques like rising musical cues from the late composer James Horner and obvious edits that draws more attention to the lack of suspense and intensity necessary to get emotionally involved.  Knowing the outcome in advance is not an excuse as a film like APPOLO 13 is still full of high energy tension even when the audience is fully aware of the end result.

Antonio Banderas in The 33

The actors do a fine job adding character depth and understanding to a mostly different culture accustomed to American audiences. The two heading the charge below are – Antonio Banderas (DESPERADO) as Mario Sepulveda, the emerging leader of the group, and Lou Diamond Phillips (YOUNG GUNS) as Luis Urzua ‘Don Lucho’, the shift manager whose responsibility is the crews safety.  Joining them is a colorful cast of characters with big personalities who all have their own reason to be alive.  Working on the outside are a few more familiar faces – Gabriel Byrne (THE USUAL SUSPECTS) as the expert driller, Rodrigo Santoro (300) as the idealist government suit doing what he can to lead the exhibition, and Juliette Binoche (CHOCOLAT) as the sister to one of the men, leading the fight for the families.  Some of these relationships are a bit odd, forcing unneeded subplots that are not near as compelling as the men trapped inside.  If only we could have seen more of the technical difficulties rather than trying to force more heart into the picture, I think THE 33 could have benefited from a more organic emotional connection.

Antonio Banderas in The 33

It can sometimes be very difficult criticizing a film covering such a positive true story. All the emotion and tension that occurred during the actual event seemed to be lost in the film. The thought of people and other countries rallying behind these men is moving on its own, but that doesn’t mean the film is a satisfying representation.  The truth behind THE 33 is inspiring and carries an emotional weight, but the execution, unfortunately, is not properly achieved.


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