Film Review – The 33 (2015)

The 33

Title – The 33 (2015)

Director – Patricia Riggen (Under the Same Moon)

Cast – Antonio Banderas, Lou Diamond Phillips, Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette Binoche, James Brolin, Gabriel Byrne

Plot – Based on the true story of a group of 33 Chilean miners that found themselves trapped underground after the mountain they were working in collapses around them setting forth an amazing story of survival and human spirit. 

“That’s not a rock, that’s the heart of the mountain”

Review by Eddie on 5/09/2016

Squandering an almost unbelievable true story in a treatment that feels far to TV like to produce the emotional resonance needed in such a dramatic survival tale, Patricia Riggen’s dramatization of the 2010 Chilean mining collapse that enthralled the world is a harmless attempt at bringing this stunning example of human courage and perseverance to the big screen but for such an unforgettable modern day tale, The 33 is sadly highly forgettable.

With a recognisable if not an exactly star studded cast led by the increasingly aged looking Antonio Banderas who finds support from hamming it up co-stars Rodrigo Santoro and one time A-lister Lou Diamond Philips, Riggen puts a majority of its focus onto these three men as Banderas’s Mario and Philips’s Don Lucho survive under the collapsed mountain of San Jose with their 31 other co-workers and Santoro government official with a heart of gold Laurence Golborne manages the rescue efforts above ground but a key ingredient to films such as The 33 is getting the audience to feel their pains and sufferings and their triumphs but Riggen’s direction is so stale and uninvolving that The 33 has a hard time making any form of impact with its loaded material.

Many including myself would remember the travails of these 33 Chilean miners, trapped for months in the small space of shelter after the mining shaft they were working in collapses but Riggen fails to capitalise on our memories or feels from this time and it would be most adequate to describe Riggen’s direction as cold and miscalculated and the aforementioned cast struggle with some truly groan inducing dialogue and even industry veterans Gabriel Byrne and the embarrassed looking Juliette Binoche can’t make the cheese covered wordings work. Overall The 33 fails to make a dent cinematically bar a few sporadic yet impressive visual ticks and even the late great James Horner’s intrusive score feels like a half effort.

The true tale of these Chilean miners and there will to survive is a great story and as poor as The 33’s execution is their plight is enough to make sure Riggen’s film isn’t a true turkey but for a tale that offers so much possibility (the psychological toll of being underground an example, something briefly touched upon here) The 33 feels like an opportunity gone begging with hopes left that one day a more polished and thoughtful incarnation of this story can be produced.

2 cookies out of 5

8 responses to “Film Review – The 33 (2015)

  1. This movie is constantly playing on my cable service right now and I know this sounds horrible but I just can’t bring myself to watch it. If I am going to watch a “thinking” piece on a tale of survival, I prefer “Alive.”

      • After reading your review, I just feel that I would be spending quite a bit of the movie watching Antonio Banderas emoting to the hilt and chewing scenery with Lou Diamond Phillips. Pardon me if this comes out incorrectly but Gabriel Byrne in a movie about Chileans? Seriously? Gabriel can’t lose his accent even if he tries and I love him.

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