At The Movies: The 33

Well, it certainly didn’t take long for Hollywood to make a film about the 2010 Chilean mining disaster. Sure, it was inevitable, but five years still seems like a short turnaround.

As I’m sure you remember — it was just five years ago, after all — 33 men went deep into the earth to work in a mine in the Chilean desert. The team’s foreman, Luis Urzua (Lou Diamond Phillips) has warned the mine owners that the mountain they’re working in is unstable, but do they listen? Of course not.

The_33_(film)_poster[1]The mine collapses and the miners are now trapped miles underground with little food or hope. Mario “Super Mario” Sepulveda (Antonio Banderas) becomes the groups unofficial leader. He divvies up the rations and encourages his coworkers to have faith.

Topside, the miners’ families have gathered at the mine seeking answers. The government’s spokesman, Laurence Golborne (Rodrigo Santoro), makes promises that he doesn’t know if he can keep.  Engineer André Sougarret (Gabriel Byrne) is brought in to find a solution.

As days stretch into weeks and into months, it is never certain what fate awaits these poor men. Except we do know what’s going to happen. It was in all the media just a few years ago.

“The 33” is a solid film in many respects. The actors all do good work, the story is compelling, it looks and feels authentic. I just felt like it didn’t have the emotional heft it needed. It felt more like a TV movie than a big theatrical event. Everyone had their little dramas, everyone has their setbacks, everyone overcomes in the end.

“The 33” is certainly a story that deserved to be told. And this isn’t a bad telling of it. It just felt too formulaic and not real enough for me to embrace it.


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