Even if you aren’t usually one to follow world events, you will have likely heard the triumphant tale of the 33 Chilean miners rescued from deep within the San Jose copper-gold mine in 2010. Trapped for a staggering 69 days, 17 of which were without hope of rescue and a severely limited food supply, it was an incredible story of hope and the enduring human spirit. It is with great shame, then, that Patricia Riggen’s tribute to these brave men doesn’t quite live up to expectation.
Often the case with these Hollywood true story adaptations, the choice was made to present the film in English with Spanish accents. While not always an issue, in this case many scenes are jarring, where mixes of Spanish and English take place, especially concerning Bob Gunton’s unforgiveable performance as Chilean President Sebastián Piñera. The film would have likely fared far better with more accurate representations of the characters and Spanish dialogue to maintain a level of authenticity.
Visually speaking, the sense of scale and disaster of the collapsing mine is portrayed well, giving a true insight into the labyrinth of mining tunnels the men found themselves buried beneath. The desperation of the miners; situation is also presented well, providing a real sense of how these men approached their dire odds. These elements, however, are overshadowed by a wanton theatricality that cheapens many of the deep emotional trials these men endured.
Attempts are made to focus on those personal elements, with particular attention given to Dario (played by Juan Pablo Raba) and his sister Maria (Juliette Binoche), but many of these moments don’t ring true and feel played up. Antonio Banderas brings his seniority in the role of Mario Sepulveda, but again, corny dialogue detracts from many of his more impactful moments.
The 33 certainly has its moments, and it is difficult not to feel some sense of joined spirit with the men who found themselves facing certain death, but the overall tone and quality of the film is disappointing by its conclusion. One can’t help but feel the miners deserved a better film.
The 33 is released in selected cinemas on 29th January 2016.
Watch the trailer for The 33 here: