The 33

This seems like a movie that had to be made. The world was captivated in 2010 by the story of Chilean miners trapped deep underground after a mine collapse.

Why then did they hand the job off to an 8th grade script writing class with only a big dictionary of awful movie archetypes at their disposal? I’m sure they earned full marks for using all of them: the new guy and his first day on the job (oh, the irony!), the old guy and his last day on the job (oh, the irony!), the 33guy who should have been off but begged to work (all together now: oh, the irony!), and most importantly, the evil, greedy boss on whom we can pin all our hatred and frustration.

Inside the mine, it’s as bad as you’d think. 33 miners survive the initial collapse but seem unlikely to survive the wretched, unsafe conditions, or each other’s mounting tensions.

Outside, families are in panic because it’s been days and not a single word has come from the owners or the government. The very same owners who sent men down despite knowing the mountain was moving, the very same who failed to outfit the refuge with any supplies, who didn’t even finish the escape ladder required by law. And a government who knows very well that their 333country depends on mining as their primary industry. So who really cares for the miners? It took 100 years to drill down as deeply as they have, and they have about a half a can of tuna per man. How quickly can they be reached, and will they be corpses when (and if) they are? The miners are afraid their families will have graves up before they’ve even breathed their last down there.

To cast this motherfucker, Hollywood looked around at anyone with dark hair and eyes. Antonio Banderas is Spanish, Rodrigo Santoro Brazilian, Juliette Binoche French (she replaced Jennifer Lopez, if you can believe it). Lou Diamond Phillipps was born in the Phillippines and is part Cherokee. Oscar Nunez, from TV’s The Office, is Cuban. Kate del Costillo is Mexican. Other 3333actors are Indian, Columbian, English, American. Actual Chileans are tough to spot but they’re banking on us not knowing, or caring, about the difference.

Is this a good movie? It was too sanitized and trite for me. I understand that the miners, largely Roman Catholic, relied a lot on faith to get them through their ordeal. They also made a pact that what happened in the mine stayed in the mine – none would reveal the understandably dark days, bad thoughts, or low points of anyone else. So the movie is based on what – Jesus and fiction? It didn’t do a lot for me.

It is, however, the last movie scored by James Horner. The score isn’t bad, but it’s as forgettable as the movie, not a great note for a remarkable composer to go out on.


19 thoughts on “The 33

  1. susielindau

    It takes a few really good reviews to get me to go to a movie based on a real life event. It always is so sanitized and has a documentary feel, unless it happened a long time ago. The real irony is the pact they made to not tell anyone. Who told?


  2. BunKaryudo

    I remember this as a news story too. It’s a pity it didn’t work out as a movie. Let’s hope Hollywood makes a better job of the “Miracle on the Hudson” picture with Tom Hanks.



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