Look, what is the point of publishing reviews on my own website if I can’t have really bad puns in their titles?
OK, so here’s the thing about The 33, director Patricia Riggen’s disaster flick about the 2010 Copiapó mining accident that left 33 people stranded underground for 69 days following a massive cave-in: It is fuller of clichés than Regina George’s hair is full of secrets.
There’s the guy who’s supposed to turn his retirement papers in on the day of the mining collapse.
Tenoch Huerta (of the excellent Güeros) plays a poor schmuck who had a really bad first day under the mountain. He’s Bolivian, which means a lot of the miners don’t like him, which makes him pissed, which in turn gives The 33 opportunity to gift its viewers with many hamfisted but well-meaning lessons about tolerance and xenophobia and forgiveness and how it’s just an iPod shuffle, dude, chill.
There’s the young politician (Rodrigo Santoro) whose job it is to get the miners rescued. The miners’ families don’t believe in him at first, because they’ve been lied to before! and who is this guy with no mining experience coming in and telling him what’s what! But he wins their trust–and the respect of an older, more cynical mining expert played by Gabriel Byrne–because he’s young and hot and he believes, dammit, he BELIEEEEEEVES.
Most egregiously, there’s the young miner with the pregnant wife (Cote de Pablo). If, the first time you see that baby bump, you know–you know in your soul of souls–that that kid’s going to pop out right before Dad escapes from the mountain, leading to a tearjerker of a first meeting between father and child–and that, further, the child will be named the Spanish word for “hope”–congratulations. You know exactly what kind of movie you’re watching.
Is it cheesy as hell? Yes, fuck yes. But it helps that the movie knows that, and embraces it, and never tries to go for the Oscars. The scene where the mine collapses is, to borrow TV spot parlance, AN ADRENALINE-FUELED THRILL RIDE THAT HAD ME ON THE EDGE OF MY SEAT. The miners are all starving to death, but they’re still buff, because there’s a limited amount of time to shoot this thing and no one’s going to go all Christian Bale on it, c’mon. There is an honest to God the-Lost-Boys-eating-imaginary-food-in-Hook scene. No food fight, though, because even fake food needs to be conserved when you’re trapped under a mountain with nothing but tuna water.
In a world where a movie in which a woman is told by her childhood pet that she gives said childhood pet a boner can make half a billion dollars, “not great, but entertaining” is OK with me. Antonio Banderas, playing the leader of the miners (and congrats to his real-life counterpart, Mario Sepúlveda–it sucked that you got trapped in a mine and almost died, but you did get played by Antonio Banderas in a movie, so, SILVER LINING), at certain point goes full Pacino with the inspiring speeches… OK, maybe not full Pacino. Like, half Pacino. But there are many, many worse things in life than listening to Banderas passionately shout about how YOU ARE ALL MY BROTHERS and passionately whisper about how the 700,000 ton rock blocking their exit is “the heart of the mountain…….. and she finally broke.”
He had fun making it. I had fun watching it. In conclusion… I need to use that gif again.