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The 33

The 33: Decent, if Predictable, Adaptation of the 2010 Chilean Mining Accident

  • Antonio BanderasJames Brolin...
  • DramaThriller
  • Patricia Riggen
reviewed by
Marija Loncarevic
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The 33: Decent, if Predictable, Adaptation of the 2010 Chilean Mining Accident

On August 5th, 2010, 33 minors entered the San Jose copper-gold mine located in the Atacama Desert and didn’t come out for 69 days after becoming trapped – a premise that is ready made for a big Hollywood adaptation.

It’s not easy weaving an engaging tale about an incident that is so fresh in people’s minds and, in that regard, The 33 is a little predictable as a watch.  However, despite the movie’s lack of surprise, the hardships and the heartache for the people both above and below ground is still nicely captured by the Mexican director, Patricia Riggen.

We first meet Mario (Banderas); a hardworking and seasoned minor who volunteers to join a more inexperienced group in order to earn a little bit more cash, along with the shift foreman, Luis (Phillips), who is worried about the safety of his minors, due to the recent shifting inside of the mountain.

However, his concerns fall on deaf ears and the minors soon find themselves descending thousands of feet into the mine for what they assume is just another day at work. Unfortunately, disaster soon strikes when a massive rock – twice the size of the Empire State Building – caves in, trapping the miners with only three days worth of food to live on. Tensions are high above ground, too, with the families of the miners soon gathering at the gates demanding answers from the company that sent them down. Stepping in to offer support is the Minister of Minery, Goldborne (Santoro), who soon takes over the rescue operation.

Retelling a story to which everyone knows the end of is, undoubtedly, a daunting task and trying to maintain a decent amount of tension and suspense throughout the minutes is quite possibly one of the biggest challenges for any filmmaker.  Luckily, Riggen manages to sidestep most of the usual trappings and, although her rather conventional and formulaic set-up results in one too many unexplored subplots and a couple of rather cheesy, Spanish soap-like moments, The 33 still manages to hold attention. The story is intriguing, the action is authentic and technically sound while the drama above ground is equally distressing to watch. Not all of the performances are solid, but Banderas manages to carry most of the weight as the charismatic de-facto leader who takes it upon himself to motivate and encourage the minors to keep their hopes up and spirits alive.

It’s a relatively solid outcome for The 33 and sure, it’s got its kinks and flaws, but there’s enough human drama to warrant a watch. 

Like This? Try

The Pennsylvania Miners Story (2002), The Claim (2001), Beaconsfield (2012)

360 Tip

Jennifer Lopez was originally cast in the role that eventually went to the considerabely more talented Juliette Binoche.

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