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Murray Journal

Dan's Review: "The 33" inspirational, but flawed

Nov 13, 2015 11:54AM ● By Dan Metcalf

The 33 - © - Warner Bros.

The 33 (Warner Bros.)

Rated PG-13 for a disaster sequence and some language.

Starring Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette Binoche, James Brolin, Lou Diamond Phillips, Mario Casas, Juan Pablo Raba, Kate del Castillo, Cote de Pablo, Jacob Vargas, Bob Gunton, Gabriel Byrne, Naomi Scott, Marco Treviño, Oscar Nunez, Alejandro Goic, Tim Willcox, Federico Luppi, Tenoch Huerta, Pedro Calvo.

Written by Mikko Alanne, Craig Borten, Michael Thomas and José Rivera, based on Deep Down Dark by Héctor Tobar.

Directed by Patricia Riggen.



Miracles happen, and so other things. Some lives are spared from disaster, while others aren’t so lucky. The 33, a film about some of the lucky ones hits theaters this weekend. It’s the (mostly) true story of a group of Chilean miners who were trapped underground after the San Jose gold mine collapsed in 2010.

Antonio Banderas stars as “Super” Mario Sepúlveda, the appointed leader and foreman who, along with 32 others became trapped after a huge rock shifted inside the mine on August 5, 2010.  Another shift foreman named Luis (Lou Diamond Phillips) also takes on a leadership role inside the mine. After the collapse, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera (Bob Gunton) allows his minster of mines Laurence Golborn (Rodrigo Santoro) to summon mine rescue specialist André Sougarret (Gabriel Byrne) to lead the rescue operation. Meanwhile near the surface, family and loved ones grow increasingly frustrated toward government and mine officials, who appear to stonewall information on the miners. One of the more outspoken critics is María Segovia (Juliet Binoche), the estranged sister of Darío Segovia (Juan Pablo Raba), one of the trapped miners dealing with alcoholism.

As the miners run out of food and water, hope fades until a drill finally pokes through to the refuge 2,300 feet below the surface. After sending a message that all 33 were alive, the operation quickly evolves from trying to located the miners into a rescue effort.

If you were one of the billion people who watched the rescue on TV, you know what happens.

The story of The 33 is inspiring, giving hope that people can be saved in the most dire circumstances, especially when others put their heads together and refuse to quit. The film captures some of that spirit, yet misses in its delivery. One problem is the “Americanization” of the narrative, with most dialogue spoken in English, with thick, Latino accents from the Anglo-European actors (Gunton, Byrne, Phillips and Binoche). At least (Brazillian) Rodrigo Santoro can pull off something more authentic with his Portuguese dialect. Some dialogue is spoken in Spanish (with English subtitles), making me wonder why they couldn’t choose between authenticity and dramatic effect. It’s a prominent distraction, and I’m sure most folks would still see a movie starring Antonio Banderas and Juliet Binoche, even if they knew there would be subtitles. The dialogue is often a little cheesy, filled with melodramatic assertions and philosophies on humanity that don’t seem suited for the occasion.

The 33 suffers from other distractions, including a few moments that twist the facts for dramatic effect. Some of the aforementioned thick accents also make the movie feel like dinner theater, rendering some of the performances a little “over-the-top.”

Even so, The 33 is a great story of perseverance and hope that many will find inspiring, even if you already watched the real thing on TV five years ago.

The 33 Trailer