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The 33

  • Film

Time Out says

This ripped-from-the-headlines drama about a group of Chilean miners trapped underground is seriously weak

Chile’s 2010 mining disaster – and the thrilling rescue of all 33 men trapped underground –played out on a globally televised stage in front of an estimated one billion viewers. Far be it for any movie to try to duplicate those numbers (much less a suspenseful climax), but Patricia Riggen’s dumbed-down dramatisation does a particularly awkward job of it, favouring several miners with TV-ready tics (the angry guy, the Elvis fanatic, etc) and ladling on late composer James Horner’s most jaunty and aggressive score.

Having the cast speak English is understandable (though still a mistake), but worse is the film’s naked grab for star heat with its central trio of ridiculous performances. Antonio Banderas brings squinty-eyed heroism to the role of 'Super Mario' Sepúlveda, the trapped miner who becomes the group's de facto leader, yet he’s on more solid ground than Juliette Binoche as a feisty Chilean protestor (yep) or Gabriel Byrne as a brilliant Chilean engineer (yep). If we could unearth these guys from their living tomb, how hard is it to find non-white actors to play real people?

'The 33' makes shameless lunges at religious imagery via ghostly auras and this-is-my-flesh apportioning of daily rations. It feels tacky, and only late in the game does Riggen find the script’s most interesting idea, about unwanted celebrity. Miner story, major fail.

Joshua Rothkopf
Written by
Joshua Rothkopf

Release Details

  • Release date:Friday 29 January 2016
  • Duration:120 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Patricia Riggen
  • Screenwriter:Mikko Alanne
  • Cast:
    • Naomi Scott
    • Cote de Pablo
    • Rodrigo Santoro
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