As I shared in last week's link roundup, I was intrigued to learn that a film had been made about the 2010 rescue of 33 miners trapped far underground in Chile for 69 days. I appreciate my friend Jane encouraging me to see it, as I very much enjoyed it earlier today.
While reviews were generally decent, ranging from so-so to very good, one of the things I've read more than once was that the movie was "predictable" or "formulaic." Well, yeah. I'm not sure what these critics expected, a different ending? There are only so many ways to tell the story when you know the outcome going in, but I thought the filmmakers nonetheless crafted a solid, engrossing film.
Antonio Banderas stars as Mario Sepulveda, who becomes the unofficial leader of the 33 miners when they are trapped underground by a monster collapse of the mine. While the miners struggle for survival, painstakingly dividing up a few tins of food and coming close to starving after 17 days underground, far above there are miners, government officials, and families trying to assess how to save the miners, if they're still alive -- and indeed, it's uncertain whether a rescue operation is even possible.
The men would be underground a total of 69 days before a larger hole completed drilling, enabling the men to surface in a rescue capsule one at a time. I remember watching that exciting moment on TV late one evening, as I'm sure many others do, as one by one the men emerged after over two months trapped below the earth's surface.
The film concludes with footage of the real miners all together this year and a note saying they are all still "brothers."
One of the things I appreciated about the movie was the subtle but present undercurrent of religious faith, which is important to so many people yet often absent from movies. A scene in which an older miner invites a troubled younger man to pray was quite moving. This aspect of the film is discussed at greater length in a recent article in the Christian Post.
Gabriel Byrne plays the engineer in charge of the rescue operation, with James Brolin as Jeff Hart, the American miner who played a crucial role in the drilling. (Brolin looks great in the part but was seriously underused.) Juliette Binoche plays the sister of one of the miners who successfully brings pressure to bear on the government to get the rescue operation into high gear, and Cote de Pablo plays the pregnant wife of one of the miners. de Pablo, of TV's NCIS, is a native of Chile.
Patricia Riggen and filmed in Chile and Colombia by Checco Varese. It runs 127 minutes.
As the film ended a card came on the screen dedicating the film "In Memory of Our Friend, James Horner." Horner, who composed the score, sadly passed away last summer.
Parental Advisory: THE 33 is rated PG-13 for language and the disaster sequence. It's an intense, mature story but I think it would probably be fine for some older children, especially given the film's positive themes of perseverance, teamwork, and faith.
The trailer is on YouTube.