33 people from the small city of Copiapó, Chile, work as miners at San José. The owners ignored the reports about structural problems in the mine, and ordered to keep working in it anyway. The mine finally collapsed, and the miners managed to reach a rescue chamber. The emergency ladders were missing, the radio was just a lot of useless cables, the medical kit was empty, and there was very little food available.
In light of the owner's disastrous management of the problem, the government of Chile seized the mine and directed the rescue operations. After some failed attempts, a drill managed to open its way to the refuge. First they sent the provisions that they may require, and finally opened a tunnel wide enough to retrieve all the miners back to the surface.
The 33 contains examples of:
- Adapted Out: There is no mention or glimpse of the six-man rescue team that descended into the mine aboard the Fenix capsule to provide medical care and stayed behind until all the miners had ascended.
- As the Good Book Says...: José Henríquez opted to ignore it. He was trying to comfort Mamani, who was too terrified to remember the words correctly. José simply improvised a prayer instead, saying that "God does not care" (about the correct use of the words, that is).
- The Atoner: The guy who first raided the food box. He gave some cookies he had kept, asking to be forgiven.
- Bad Boss: The owners of the mine do not give a crap about the miner's security, and will not attempt any rescue. They said that they had already dealt with 5 mine collapses, and never rescued anyone.
- Big Damn Heroes: The government of Chile filled this role, when it was clear that the owners of the mine would let the miners die.
- Black Comedy Cannibalism: One of the miners joked that, if they ran out of food, they may eat the Bolivian. Everybody laughs about the joke... except the Bolivian, who knows well that Chileans hate Bolivians, and that he's alone in a room filled with Chileans near the starvation point. Nobody really took the idea seriously, but he had a terrible fear since then.
- Character Name Alias: Both in the movie as well in Real Life, Mario Sepúlveda is known by everyone as "Super Mario."
- Crazy Enough to Work: Part of the problem to reach the refuge with the drills is that they do not go in a straight line, they have a minor deviation that increases with the distance and makes them miss the target. The minister of mining had an idea: send the drill to miss on purpose. The lead miner dismissed the plan as a nonsense, but then gave it a try, Of course, it worked.
- Elvis Impersonator: Edison Peña, both in parties and in the mine.
- Everyone Lives: All of the miners make it out alive.
- The Face: Mario Sepúlveda. For the movie also is The Leader and The Protagonist.
- First Day from Hell: For the Bolivian Mamani, this was his first day working as a miner. Mario tells him to don't forget to put in for overtime pay.
- Foregone Conclusion: Of course that the miners will be rescued, and that the 33 survive the whole thing. It's all written down in Chilean history.
- Karma Houdini: It was mentioned in the epilogue that the mine has never been sued for criminal negligence, and the miners never received any compensation for this.
- Meat-O-Vision: When the last rations were finally over, and the miners eat their last piece of food, they began a mass-alucination where their wives, daughters, mothers, etc; gave them delicious empanadas, pastes, salads, cakes, etc. The dream was over a bit later, and they returned to the reality of the mine.
- My Friends and Zoidberg!: The Bolivian Mamani gets a lot of violent crap from the others. Chileans do not like Bolivians very much. Eventually, the shared suffering makes them go easier on him.
- Torches and Pitchforks: The mine was not going to try any rescue. The relatives of the miners did not take it lightly.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: As you should know, this is based on a true story.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The film ends with images of the real 33 miners.