When the Copiapo mine collapsed in Chile in 2010, the whole world watched. 33 miners were trapped almost 2,000 feet below the earth with little hope of being rescued.
Director Patricia Riggen gathers a large international cast to tell this true story that spanned an unbelievable 69 days. The miners enter the mine on large trucks and descend to begin their grueling shifts, just as a huge piece of mountain breaks off and collapses the shaft, closing off their exit. The men go down further to a safe room set up for emergencies where they were told that food and water would be available until they are rescued. They find that their supplies are only a few cans of tuna, a little water and some cookies. A terrible situation is made much worse by the prospect of them not surviving long enough to be saved.
Antonio Banderas plays Mario, an optimistic leader whom the men appoint to ration out their food. More importantly, he also takes on the role of cheer leader. Lou Diamond Phillips plays their shift boss - both men give very strong performances.
As soon as the mine caves, the families camp outside the fenced property. Brothers, sisters, wives and children sleep on the ground, demanding information about their loved ones from the armed guards. After days of no help, a television crew shows up to bring publicity to the men's plight, which finally prods the President to send the Ministry of Mines (Rodrigo Santoro) to see what can be done to prevent his Administration from looking bad.
The Minister calls in the best engineer (Gabriel Byrne), drills are set up and crews work day and night. All the time, the miners are hot (the temperatures are over 90 degrees), dehydrated and losing faith. One by one, the drills break, and slowly other countries join in with the rescue attempt. The days are counted off on screen as the men get weaker. If you didn't already know the miraculous outcome, you would expect a disastrous ending.
The 33 is an inspiring story that keeps you interested throughout. It shows what amazing things the human spirit is capable of.