In 2010, when 33 Chilean miners were rescued 69 days after being buried deep inside a gold and copper mine, my first thought was profound relief and exultation. My second thought was, I hope no one makes a hokey movie about this.
My fears have been confirmed with Patricia Riggen’s “The 33,” which unearths not only those thirty-three miners but also several thousand tons of clichés. Antonio Banderas plays the trapped group’s de facto leader, Mario Sepúlveda, aka “Super Mario,” who keeps his head while all about him are losing theirs. Lou Diamond Phillips is miner Luis Urzua, who just knew this 100-year-old mine was ready to collapse but couldn’t persuade the big bad bosses to ease up. Juliette Binoche, playing the sister of one of the miners, shows up looking and sounding like a refugee from “Carmen.” And so it goes.
Yes, the rescue saga is inspirational, and it’s nice to see the faces of the real-life miners as the film ends. But you’d never know from this movie that any of them struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder; we learn almost nothing about their subsequent fates. I trust this movie provided the men a greater compensation for their ordeal than the pittance the mining company forked over. Grade: C- (Rated PG-13 for a disaster sequence and some language.)