“The 33” may have a moving storyline, but it’s not the most genuine taste.
Based on the real-life event that trapped 33 Chilean miners thousands of miles underground, “The 33” tells us how they survived and the arduous task of rescuing them.
The only problem is the event took place five years ago, which is fairly recent memory, so there’s not much excitement for anyone who kept close tabs on international news or has access to Google.
The story switches from the trapped miners to their families waiting for news. And there’s a lot of waiting: Families wait for someone to do something, miners wait to see if anyone is even bothering to rescue them, and rescuers wait to see if their plans will actually work. With all that waiting, at a certain point you start to get restless and want the movie to be over.
There are 33 men trapped, and since developing 33 characters is an impossible task for any film, “The 33” focuses broadly on just a handful. This allows the audience to connect with Mario (Antonio Banderas), Don (Lou Diamond Phillips) and Alex (Mario Casas), just to name a few. But it doesn’t always work in favor of the film, as some of the stories seem like they might have been embellished a touch.
However, the acting is top notch, with the fear and despair of both the miners and their families aptly portrayed. Banderas particularly knocks it out of the park, drawing in the audience with his character’s intense will to survive.
The other trouble the movie faces is the confined space conundrum. The miners are trapped in a small area with little lighting for days on end, and limited room to pan around can be disastrous for movies. Surprisingly, “The 33” handles the challenge well by also showing life above ground, and most impressively, a long panning shot up to emphasize just how big the rock is that traps the miners.
What the film lacks most is authenticity. While you can feel the emotions, the real world of Chile the film tries to create seems fake. And it’s not just the typical Hollywoodized story-telling, but rather the Americanized story of Chile. Most of the cast are Spanish-speaking actors, but absolutely everything is in English. It makes the story seem as Chilean as the “Mexican” food at Taco Bell.
Yes, the movie has problems, but the story is still moving and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside as you leave the theater. But when you start heading home, you’re left to wonder how much of it was real, which is similar to that queasy feeling you get when the Doritos taco you just ate starts to sink in.