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The 33

     In many ways The 33 is a more powerful true story than IMAX seat gripper Everest. If the humanity and emotion gets somewhat lost in Baltasar Kormákur brilliant technical filmmaking on Everest, director Patricia Riggen understands that getting to know the 33 trapped Chilean miners is the entire story here. Everest took us 29,000 feet in the air while The 33 takes us 17,000 feet below. How do you take a worldwide news story that happened in 2010 and make a two hour feature film about it? Riggen and screenwriters understand there is much more here than whether or not these miners live or die. Antonio Banderas (The Expendables 3, The Skin I Live In) buried below and Juliette Binoche fighting up top help create the tense atmosphere that lasted for over two months while the world watched.

     Luis Urzua (Phillips) warned the private owners of the mine in the Atacama Desert of its instability for years. He reminds his boss that the lives of the men are in his charge, but only profits and daily gold accumulation are their concern. With 33 men thousands of feet below, the 100 year old mine collapses burying the workers alive. Mario Sepúlveda (Banderas) is appointed the leader and guardian of the small amount of food they have, he truly believes the government or their families will come for them, despite the odds. Laurence Golborne (Santoro), mining adviser to the government, informs the president of Chile (Bob Gunton) they must do everything possible to rescue these men or the entire country will turn on their administration.

Carefully structures the films biggest moments of suspense to keep the viewer on edge despite knowing the outcome.

     The story is certainly an epic tale of survival, friendship and hope, but the screenplay also sheds light on details lost in national news coverage. While uninterested in assigning blame, we do come to understand the negligence of the mining company and the pivotal role the government played in the rescue. The script chooses to highlight a handful of the miners with more colorful personalities which affords Banderas one of the most passionate roles of his career. Oscar winner Binoche (Clouds of Sils Maria, The English Patient) took over the role for Jennifer Lopez and thankfully the project sacrificed high profile celebrity for talent. The 33 takes the time to explore the imperfect family dynamics and the bond these trapped men will have for the rest of their lives.

     The story doesn’t end when the outside world first makes contact, albeit that is likely when the major news stopped reporting. The film explores the technology brought in from around the world to assist in getting these men out. Riggen carefully structures the films biggest moments of suspense to keep the viewer on edge despite knowing the outcome. While many scenes of embrace and sentimentality might be too much for overly intellectual viewer, The 33 is an emotional experience that not only changed an entire country but created new awareness in the mining industry and changed many standards for the dangerous occupation.

Final Thought

An intense and emotional true story that goes much deeper than a simple rescue mission.

B+

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