The 33

The 33

In Theatres: 
Nov 13, 2015
Running Time: 
127 minutes

The story of the Chilean mining accident in which 33 miners were trapped over 2,000 feet underground for 69 days in 2010 captured the attention of people worldwide as news channels ran around the clock coverage of the incident. Naturally it would only be a matter of time before we’d see a dramatization of the event on the big screen. While The 33 puts forth a solid effort, it struggles to capture the gravity of the situation so many of us watch unfold as it happened live.


The San Esteban Mining Company only cares about how much rock containing copper and gold their miners can excavate from the San José mine everyday. It’s purely a numbers game for them, as evident by the less-than-acceptable safety features of the mine. The miners need the money and can’t afford not to work so they continue pushing ahead until one day a massive cave-in caused a collapse and trapped 33 of them deep within the mines. With few supplies and no contact with those above them, Mario Sepúlveda (Antonio Banderas) rallies his fellow miners as they fight for as long as they possibly can in the hopes of rescue.


Antonio Banderas is the heart and soul of the film. The miners were trapped together for 69 days, 17 of which were before they were even discovered. Mario kept their spirits alive, and was seen as the leader of the group. Banderas does an excellent job at calming everyone down and keeping a level head throughout.


Joining him is Lou Diamond Phillips as Luis Urzúa, the foreman who knew the mines better than anyone else trapped down there. While he known as a leader in the real accident, the film portrays him in a more conflicted light as he likely knew how unsafe the mines actually were.


Aside from the few main miners, The 33 doesn’t really explore the rest of the crew. The majority of them are just background characters. Of course, the film also expands on the rescue efforts happening above with Minister of Mining, Laurence Golborne (Rodrigo Santoro) at the helm of the operation. There are a lot of players in the film, and it’s difficult at times to keep track of everything that’s going on.


The 33 does feature some great performances, especially from Banderas and Santoro, but it struggles with the story. Honestly, it doesn’t capture the intensity and desperation of the situation these miners are in. Most saw this unfold live only five years ago so the event is still relatively fresh in people’s minds. The mines in the film just feel like four walls and a ceiling and not like the claustrophobic tomb you would expect. The film fails to portray the gravity of the situation, and because of that it falls flat.


The 2010 Chilean mining accident was an unbelievable event that ended with the best possible outcome. While The 33 brings out some heavy hitting performances from its cast, the film itself doesn’t do enough justice to its source material.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
Follow him @ Twitter
Friend him @ Facebook