Director: Patricia Riggen
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette Binoche, James Brolin, Lou Diamond Phillips, Bob Gunton, Gabriel Byrne
Release Date: November 13, 2015
The opening text in the new drama The 33 reminds viewers that approximately 12, link 000 miners die in mining accidents every year. It’s a heartbreaking number to think about especially because we often take for granted the inherent dangers of working in a tunnel thousands of feet underground. Confined spaces can be scary in general but it’s hard to imagine being locked in a confined space that is nearly inescapable and completely surrounded by unstable walls that could move at any moment.
Creating that fear-inducing setting is what this new film does so well in telling the story of thirty-three Chilean miners who were trapped underground for months in 2010. Based on Hector Tobar’s book Deep Down Dark (which attempted to tell the miners’ story), viagra the film tries to visually capture the fear of those miners while also depicting how the mining company and the Chilean government reacted to the catastrophic tunnel collapse that left the thirty-three men isolated underground.
Director Patricia Riggen sets the scene by establishing the environment early on. She shows the miners heading to work on an average and unremarkable day. The miners board trucks and are transported deep underground where their “office” awaits them. From a distance, approved Riggen’s camera captures the enormity of their underground work environment.
Their area isn’t a small little section of a mountain. It’s more comparable to a large underground warehouse where light floods the walls, work desks occupy clean spaces and there’s enough room to walk around freely.
What the screenplay by Mikko Alanna, Craig Borten and Michael Thomas does so well is lay the ground work for the collapse. Where it falters though is taking advantage of its powerful premise to build real characters.
The difficulty may have been in the enormity of the story itself. The movie tries to tell too many stories at once. It switches gears from the area where the miners are trapped to the outside world where a government official named Laurence Golborne (Rodrigo Santoro) tries to find a way to rescue the miners through more drilling. Clocking in at 127 minutes, the film isn’t short but it drags as it struggles to balance multiple stories from both environments.
The most compelling storyline shows how Mario Sepúlveda (Antonio Banderas), one of the trapped miners, struggles to maintain control of his frustrated colleagues. With only three days of food to sustain his crew 2400 feet under the ground, he tries to conserve supplies while being criticized by thirty-two frustrated, sweaty and tough men who don’t know how long they have left to live. Mario’s struggles as the unofficial leader of the group are glimpsed here in a few strong sequences but one would’ve hoped that the filmmakers would have given more screen time to that anxiety-inducing situation instead of showing tidbits of least a dozen different stories.
The same can be said for the religious element here. For over two months, these miners were trapped and their faith helped them overcome the fear and restlessness they faced. At the end of the ordeal, the miners note that God was with them the whole time but that faith component never gets the attention it deserves. The answer of how these men survived for so long is a difficult one to answer but the filmmakers only seem to be interested in addressing it superficially.
At the end of story, it’s hard not to be touched by the emotional ordeal these men faced. It’s hard not to appreciate the hopelessness these men had to face while their stomachs were empty and they realized that no one in the outside world knew they were alive. But it’s also not to be disappointed that this film doesn’t do their incredible story justice.
Review by: John Hanlon