Isn’t always nice to have a film made about an event you remember? Well … maybe for someone my age, it’s a bit harder to come by, but seeing as the event detailed in “The 33” was in 2010 when I was a freshman in high school, it came easy for me to remember. Watching it on the news at the time, it only seemed a matter of time before Hollywood got their hands on the story to make into their own film, creative liberties and all. Still, it’s always natural to hold out hope for films like this and when the casting reports came out for this film, I was hopeful. “The 33” found a good mix in both international stars and Latin-American stars, really getting a nice mix of old and new with the casting, making “The 33” easier to swallow, even if it ended up being mediocre.
Luckily, despite a poor first act, “The 33” redeems itself for the most part, even in its typical nature as a biopic.
Antonio Banderas leads the film as Mario Sepúlveda, the leader of the miners after the mountain in which they were working in collapsed from the inside, trapping them inside with very little food or water. Banderas does some of his best work in years, channeling the deep desperation that Sepúlveda was most likely feeling himself during this horrendously stressful time. Equally as great is Juliette Binoche as María Segovia, the sister of a trapped miner who leads the crusade of support from the families of the miners outside the mine. Binoche is one of the most underrated actresses of her generation and to see her in a role such as this simply reminds me of the incredible range she has an actress. Occasionally, apart from Banderas and Binoche, the acting can get a bit stiff from some of the supporting characters, but I can give some credit to many of the native Spanish speaking actors having to speak English.
The first act of “The 33” really didn’t present itself very well though, if only from being so typical that it bores you. I didn’t feel much for the characters in the mine, as the film completely rushed the build up to the disastrous event and completely found itself devoid of any real character development. As the film went on, we began to learn more about the characters and begin to care about them much more, but the structure of how we’re supposed to come and feel for these characters was completely off, making me think for a long time that I actually disliked “The 33” before it’s third-act turnaround.
From there, “The 33” becomes a much more engaging, emotional and inspiring film when we realize that these men will be saved. Tension doesn’t support “The 33,” as we know the outcome of the film going in and seeing as it took a while for me to really connect with these characters, that I can’t excuse. Yet, when I did begin to connect, I connected quite a bit, with the film really moving me in the final scenes. Sure, it didn’t bring me to feel tears coming up, but feeling the faintest of goosebumps with the beautiful score by the late and forever great James Horner made “The 33” work in its own right.
“The 33” is just a little too typical of a biopic for real awards consideration, but in its own category, “The 33” does what it needs to do as a film of this nature. Most probably won’t feel as bored as I did in the first half of this film, or I’m at least hoping so. The performances in the film are generally consistent, with great work from Banderas and Binoche, offsetting some of the stiffer moments of the film. The film handles its Christian overtones with grace and ease, making “The 33” a spiritual experience for those who look for one as well. The second half of “The 33” is a completely different beast than the dragging first half. Yet, isn’t it always better to start slow and finish strong? That’s what I’ve always been taught.
Directed by: Patricia Riggen
Srarring: Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette Binoche, James Brolin, Lou Diamond Phillips, Mario Casas, Adriana Barraza, Kate del Castillo, Cote de Pablo, with Bob Gunton and Gabriel Byrne.
Runtime: 127 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for a disaster sequence and some language.
Alcon Entertainment presents, a Phoenix Pictures production, “The 33”