The whole film becomes as mechanical as the oversized drills in play at the rescue site.
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The film doles out a shock or hits a (usually hollow) emotional note every few minutes with mechanical precision.
Despite the predictability of storytelling, The 33 is an undeniably rousing picture.
Might be more engaging were it not for the melodrama heavily larded into the screenplay (cobbled together by numerous writers).
Antonio Banderas plays the growling veteran miner who shows flint and organizational moxie when the worst happens. And Lou Diamond Phillips, laying it on thick, is the guilt-ridden colleague, trapped with the others, whose job it is “to keep these men SAFE.” Which he does. Repeatedly. Loudly. Passionately.
In broad strokes, the events that unfold are undeniably riveting.... The trouble is, The 33 only knows broad strokes. Lacking any specific angle on the ordeal, the filmmakers give the once-over-lightly treatment to every aspect of it, which ensures that none of them will be properly served.
Director Patricia Riggen finds a rigorous and affecting visual language for The 33, but she and her international cast are hampered by a screenplay that too often gets in the way of a powerful story.
The 33, directed by Patricia Riggen, makes a valiant effort to tell this harrowing story onscreen, and there are moments when every shifting plate clicks right into place. In the end, though, the picture stumbles, and it may not completely be the fault of the filmmakers.