In trying to breathe life into too many characters, the screenplay transforms them all into thinly-drawn caricatures. In focusing on its feel-good, inspirational ending, it fails to make nearly 2 hours of hardship a worthwhile experience.
The 33 is not a failure. It's a crowd-pleasing, sentimental, middle-of-the-road venture suitable for any audience. And that's a pity, because the subject matter cries out for a much more muscular treatment.
Riggen methodically juxtaposes crises above and below ground level, the only stylistic surprise being a scene that recalls a hallucinatory moment from Oliver Stone's wholly superior World Trade Center.