The 33, directed by Patricia Riggen, is based off of real life events from Deep Down Dark, a novel written by Hector Tobar. The movie stars Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette Binoche, James Brolin, Lou Diamond Phillips, Mario Casas, Jacob Vargas, Juan Pablo Raba, Oscar Nuñez, Adriana Barraza, Kate del Castillo, Cote de Pablo, Elizabeth De Razzo, Naomi Scott, and Gabriel Byrne.
A group of men begin their work day in a Chilean mine just like any other. They know the company they work for has not done a great job of maintaining a safe work environment yet they must provide for their families. When tragedy strikes and the mine collapses, 33 men are left buried alive with seemingly no hope of rescue, at least until their families put up enough of a protest that the local government and eventually the world gets involved to see that each of them are rescued safely from this amazing ordeal.
There is a heck of a lot to like about this movie and Patricia Riggen does a great job at balancing out so many characters and plot threads into one cohesive story. You have the 33 men trapped in the mine and what they do to survive, you have the families and friends who are doing everything they can to support the rescue efforts, and you have the government agencies working around the clock to not only rescue the men but to keep from being part of a tragedy that would be felt around the world if any or all of them were lost. Both Riggen and the team of screenwriters, which included Mikko Alanne, Craig Borten, Michael Thomas, and Jose Rivera, seemed to know just who and what to focus on to tell the best story possible and the casting department did a heck of a job filling so many roles with quality actors and actresses.
Out of anyone involved, Antonio Banderas really shines as Mario Sepúlveda, one of the men who stepped up and became a leader after the mine collapsed, and he shows off his full range of acting ability all the while maintaining his sense of and flair for the dramatic. Even with all of the iconic characters he has played over the years, this could really be the finest performance of his career. I was also rather impressed with Lou Diamond Phillips who has managed to have a solid career even though most will always identify him from his debut performance as Ritchie Valens in La Bamba. The one thing I thought was a little weird was the choice to have everyone speak English which is of course so the American audience doesn't have to read subtitles to understand what is going on. To me, it just felt awkward and out of place, but I understand why the decision was made so whatever.
Before watching this movie, I honestly didn't know much about the story other than seeing the random headline or news clip while it was taking place so I really don't know how closely the creative team stuck to how everything really went down. Either way, The 33 is a fine representation of heroism, faith, perseverance, and survival against incredible odds and is definitely a movie worth watching.