Coming to theaters this Friday from director Patricia Riggen and Warner Bros. Pictures comes the true story of “The 33.”

Mario Sepulveda (Antonio Banderas) and other villagers work in the gold and copper mine outside of town. Don Lucho (Lou Diamond Phillips) is worried that the ground above the workers deep in the mind is becoming unstable. When the bosses don’t listen, Lucho joins the men down into the mine.

Preparing for the day’s digging the ground begins to shake violently and a large rock (the size of two empire state buildings) drops through the man made openings. Trying to escape before the totally collapse, the men make there way to a safe place.

As word spreads about the mine, Maria Segovia (Juliette Binoche) wants answers about her brother but no one is talking. Word also gets to Lawrence Golborne (Rodrigo Santoro), the President’s advisor. Knowing there is only one thing to do, he goes to the mine personally to see what can be done.

There he is met by Maria who demands answers and once he sees the families pain, begins the process of bringing in Andre Sougarret (Gabriel Byrne) who can find answers to getting the men out. From one disappointment to the next, time is running out for the men below!

The 33 men must believe they will see the light of day.

Banderas as Mario is given the role early on as the leader of the surviving group. Trying to stay focused on how to keep their spirits up and nourishment to their bodies, Mario proves being the leader can be tough. Banderas has moments where his character is barely keeping it together yet he doesn’t stop caring about the men around him.

Phillips as Lucho is a man concerned in the beginning with the instability of the mine and then becomes concerned that others are blaming him. Lucho steps into despair and stays there until the initial drill comes through and when his talents are needed he steps up to the plate. Phillips embraces all those emotions and bounces off Banderas’ Mario well.

Binoche as Maria is tough and has a pretty good right hook. The relationship with her brother was rough before the cave in and she is not about to let it end without trying. If Mario is the leader below ground then Maria is the leader above ground! Byrne as Sougarret is the man who knows how to drill but hasn’t had to do anything like this. Trying to stay positive, every delay tests his patience and causes him to question whether the endeavor is even possible.

Santoro as Lawrence brings the villagers and the drillers together to keep hope alive. It is easy to see the pain every time a plan doesn’t work. Santoro has such moments of emotion that I found myself mesmerized by those tearful brown eyes. Hey, if it brings out an emotion them I’m all for it!

The cast also includes include: Mario Casas as Alex Vega, Jacob Vargas as Edison Pena, Juan Pablo Raba as Dario Segovia, Oscar Nunez as Yonni Barrios, Tenoch Huerta as Carlos Mamani, Marco Trevino as Jose Henriquez, Adriana Barraza as Marta Salinas, Kate del Castillo as Katty, Cote de Pablo as Jessia, Elizabeth De Razzo as Susana Valenzuela, Bob Gunton as President Pinera and James Brolin as Jeff Hart.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “The 33” three tubs of popcorn out of five. This is a nice telling of a true story but its hard to follow along with it, especially since we all know how it ends. Yes, seeing how they managed to survive the initial cave in answered a few questions but the rest is what one would expect.

I think that has become a problem for films that are ‘based on true events’ because the media itself has told the story so huge and so often that to make a film about it seems a bit of a let down.

Granted the cast does a well rounded job of giving the viewers a chance to know each of the 33 and what they personally went through. In that sense, if the viewer hasn’t seen the many interviews of the 33 men, then this part of the film gives an insight.

In the end — hope runs deep!

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Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.