Director: Patricia Riggen
Stars: Antonio Banderas, Juliette Binoche
2 (out of 5) Globes
Tragedies, and especially tragedies that end happily, such as the 2010 Chilean mine collapse, are no-brainers for movies. They’re such no-brainers that sometimes filmmakers don’t think about the best way to re-tell them, or if they can be re-told at all. There are a lot of moving parts in “The 33,” about the miners who spent 69 days trapped miles under near-impenetrable rock outside of Copiapo. There’s the near-victims themselves. There are the engineers who worked around the clock to save them. There’s the family members who never left a makeshift camp near the mine. And there’s the international response, from those who came in to help to the entire world watching their belated escape live.
A more deftly controlled film could have weaved between these segments; a more bold film would have chosen one, like, say, staying entirely with the miners and charting their collective mental fall and rise. But the most likely outcome — and the one in “The 33” — amounts to cutting corners. Everything gets short shrift, everything is told in broad strokes and everything that happens seems like it should be stirring but only remains theoretically engaging. It’s a plot summary of a movie, nobly and earnestly made but rarely getting the passion, despite some eager scenery-chewing from Antonio Banderas and Juliette Binoche.
Banderas himself is actually nowhere near the real version of the man he’s playing, Mario Sepulveda, who became the exuberant public face of the miners after they finally, after three weeks, made contact with the outside world, who weren’t even sure they were alive. He became christened “Super Mario,” though Banderas’ version is more chill (for Banderas, that is). Given the large ensemble of players and relatively short running time, “The 33” only has room for a handful of characters with any real screentime, but even the most visible can barely make a dent. Binoche, technically miscast as a Chilean yet at least fiery, plays the loudest, most slappiest, most rock-throwing-est of the waiting family members. But even she largely disappears halfway through, lost amongst a film too big to even keep track of La Binoche.