Hollywood Film ‘The 33’ Review



Nov. 13 (AlconEntertainment)


Juliette Binoche, AntonioBanderas, Lou Diamond Phillips, Rodrigo Santoro, Gabriel Byrne


Patricia Riggen

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Harrowing, suspenseful, pitting hope against despair and culminating in a triumph of can-do spirit — the story of the 2010 collapse of a century-old Chilean mine is, for good and bad, the stuff of Hollywood dreams. Director Patricia Riggen finds a rigorous and affecting visual language for The 33, but she and her international cast are hampered by a screenplay that too often gets in the way of a powerful story.


As it counts down the trapped miners’ two-month ordeal, the film sticks to the formulaic surface, moving among an assemblage of neatly summarized types rather than full-blooded characters. But given how widely watched the real-life events were, the movie arrives with a must-see factor that will serve it well at the box office, at least initially.

In light of the increasing commercial clout of Spanish-language films, the decision to shoot the movie in English is disappointing. It’s also highly distracting, with an international cast juggling a collection of Spanish accents.

The heart-tugging story strands unwind in the depths of the mine and aboveground, where the miners’ families set up a makeshift city and Laurence Golborne (Rodrigo Santoro), Chile’s young, green minister of mining, oversees the rescue efforts of a team led by chief engineer Andre Sougarret(Gabriel Byrne), with James Brolin making a cameo appearance as an American drilling expert.

Among the more distracting elements of the film is Juliette Binoche’s turn as Maria Segovia, a hawker of empanadas whose troubled brother (Juan Pablo Raba) is one of the 33. Her character’s forthright defiance when Golborne shows up feels as forced as the bond they finally forge, not because the actors’ performances aren’t heartfelt but because their interactions are such transparent plot engines — one of which leads to an utterly unpersuasive aha moment in the rescue strategy.

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As for the title characters, most are sidelined, as would be expected in such a narrative feature. Ten miners get “storylines,” such as they are, some of them screen-written composites like Raba’s angry alcoholic, who will undergo the DTs, repentance and redemption. There’s a young father-to-be (Mario Casas); an unlikely and comical philanderer (Oscar Nunez, of The Office); an old-timer with rattling lungs (Gustavo Angarita) who’s on his final shift before retirement; and an ostracized Bolivian newcomer (Tenoch Huerta).

Production companies: Alcon Entertainment presents a Phoenix Pictures productionCast: Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette Binoche, Lou Diamond Phillips, Gabriel Byrne, James Brolin, Mario Casas, Jacob Vargas, Juan Pablo Raba, Oscar Nunez, Tenoch Huerta, Marco Trevino, Adriana Barazza, Kate del Castillo, Cote de Pablo, Elizabeth De Razzo, Naomi Scott, Gustavo Angarita, Alejandro Goic, Bob Gunton, Mario Kreutzberger
Director: Patricia Riggen
Screenwriters: Mikko Alanne, Craig Borten, Michael Thomas
Screen story by Jose Rivera
Based on the book Deep Down Darkby Hector Tobar
Producers: Mike Medavoy, Edward McGurn, Robert Katz
Executive producers: Carlos Eugenio Lavin, Leopoldo Enriquez, Alan Zhang, José Luis Escolar
Director of photography: Checco Varese
Production designer: Marco Niro
Costume designer: Paco Delgado
Editor: Michael Tronick 
Composer: James Horner
Visual effects supervisor: Alex Henning
Sound mixer: Santiago Nunez
Casting: Carla Hool

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