Take a Drink: each time the miners argue with each other
Take a Drink: for disparaging words towards Bolivians
Do a Shot: when Antonio Banderas overacts (awesomely)
By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Four Beers) –
In the Atacama high mountain desert of Chile, a team of 33 miners become trapped in a massive collapse. The mining crew, lead by Mario Sepúlveda (Antonio Banderas), struggle to survive in the deep mine, with limited supplies of food and water, and where temperatures climb up towards 100 degrees Fahrenheit. As word about the collapse spreads around the world, pressure builds upon the Chilean government to do everything they can to save the lives of the miners. Despite their being trapped 2,300 ft underground, below rock so hard that it eats equipment for breakfast, crews are brought in from all over the world to assist in drilling towards the miners.
Based on a true story of the 2010 Chilean mine disaster, The 33 tells a harrowing personal story of the will to survive. The Miner cast is lead by a flamboyant and wonderful performance by Antonio Banderas,
Alongside him are Lou Diamond Phillips, Mario Casas, and Jacob Vargas. On the surface overseeing the drilling operation is Rodrigo Santoro, who plays the Chilean Minister of Mining, alongside Gabriel Byrne, who plays an engineer whose expertise lead the mission to save the miners. The cast is uniformly solid, taking the material straight from history and giving the film a palpable emotional core.
Mexican film director Patricia Riggen keeps the film’s pace flowing at a relatively even keel; however she never quite figures out the right blend between telling the story of the Miners and of the people working to save them. By spending so much time topside, the film gives less than adequate time to truly get to know most of the miners. The miners are treated less like a group of individuals, and more like a group of talking heads. While the actors involved carry their weight quite well, there is never really enough time spent on any individual to really care about their situation (perhaps save for Antonio Banderas). I would suggest that an equitable solution might have been to begin by showing just the events as seen through the eyes of the miners, and then when they finally make contact with the outside world, then the story could widen to the people on the surface.
The tone of the film feels like the kind of “based on a true story” melodrama that Disney loves to put out once or twice a year. Granted The 33 is not a Disney film, but the feeling is the same. These films are dispensable middle of the road entertainment designed to provide an inoffensive take on real events, for consumption by audiences in the need of something, but not sure what.
This final beer I must confess goes for my personal experience at the theater, and is being added to the movie not as criticism of the film, but of the audience. Right as the film’s opening titles began to roll, a group of people shuffled late into the theater and sat behind me. As they sat down, they began to talk to each other, asking each other what they knew about the film. Frustrated with the experience, I turned around and made a hushed plea for the talkers to be quiet, only to discover that the talkers were physically disabled, two men in electric wheelchairs, one presumably blind as he had a service dog, and their nurse.
Feeling pangs of liberal guilt from having chastised people in their situation, I turned back around immediately and sunk into my chair like a sack of wet cement. And then they resumed talking, and continued to talk throughout the movie, exchanging questions with each other, and spoiling plot points by talking about their knowledge of the history of the real event the film is depicting. I did not attempt to silence them again, owing to my earlier embarrassment, and as a result, found it difficult to absorb myself into the movie. I blame myself for allowing guilt to cloud my judgment, because there is no excuse for talking during a movie at the theater.
A slick recreation of historical events for American audiences to consume, like a bag of potato chips. With exactly as much nutrition…