Weekend movie review: The 33

Most folks recall that in 2010, thirty-three miners were trapped for an excruciating — for themselves as well as their families — 69 days in a collapsed mine in Chile. Most folks recall the miraculous ending to the ordeal, too.

Knowing how the story plays out detracts not one bit from the drama of THE 33, the film based on the inspirational story.

the 33 movie poster 

Director Patricia Riggen did an impressive job bringing to life the miners' horrifying ordeal, based on a screenplay by Miko Alanne and Craig Borten. And the actors portraying the miners, their families, and the men who worked diligently to free the men from their potential grave 200 stories beneath the ground played their parts to perfection, captivating me from beginning to end... despite my knowing the end.

Primary players of THE 33 are Antonio Banderas as Mario Sepúlveda, who quickly became the leader beneath the rubble and the public face of the disaster. Lou Diamond Phillips stars as Luis "Don Lucho" Urzúa, the shift foreman and safety manager who led the miners deep into the 100-year-old mine despite knowing it was unsafe (but at his supervisor's command). Rodrigo Santoro (who was the handsome love interest of Laura Linney in LOVE, ACTUALLY) plays Laurence Golborne, the Minister of Mining of Chile and the man instrumental in initiating and continuing rescue efforts despite the odds. And Juliette Binoche plays Maria Segovio, whose brother was trapped and who was determined to keep the search alive until the miners were saved... or found. Last but not least, James Brolin plays Jeff Hart, the American driller who led the successful efforts to save the men.

Plus many other actors who helped realistically recreate the story of the disaster and its miraculous ending, a tale that captivated the world.


In addition to the realistic setting — which was so good, it made my husband and me a tad claustrophobic just watching some scenes — the music of James Horner (to whom the film was dedicated) masterfully captured the sense of desperation and doom as well as the determination and sheer faith that kept the miners and family sane and hope alive.

THE 33 is not all doom and gloom, as one might expect from a reenactment of such a disaster. There's plenty of humor and hope-filled moments. There's the miner who fancies himself an Elvis impersonator, the wife and mistress battling over who deserves to be on the scene of their trapped lover, the jibs and jabs of rough-and-tumble men doing their best to remain optimistic.

Those men, as portrayed by the actors, seemed to truly care for one another — with the exception of the one Bolivian, at times... at first — despite some tense moments as time wore on. The clips of the actual miners at the end of the film confirms the comraderie and true brotherhood of the thirty-three who experienced the unimaginable and lived to tell their tales.

The stars of THE 33 discussed the film on The Today Show before its premiere:

THE 33 (rated PG-13 "for a disaster sequence and some language") was released in theaters in November of 2015 and is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, and some streaming services. Find out more about the film and the disaster at The33Movie.com.