Thirteen Lives recounts the incredible true story of the tremendous global effort to rescue a Thai soccer team who become trapped in the Tham Luang cave during an unexpected rainstorm. Faced with insurmountable odds, a team of the world’s most skilled and experienced divers – uniquely able to navigate the maze of flooded, narrow cave tunnels – join with Thai forces and more than 10,000 volunteers to attempt a harrowing rescue of the twelve boys and their coach. With impossibly high stakes and the entire world watching, the group embarks on their most challenging dive yet, showcasing the limitlessness of the human spirit in the process.
What We Thought:
I knew absolutely nothing about Thirteen Lives going into the film. I haven’t seen the documentary about the event nor do I remember the story making news years back when it really happened. Not knowing about the rescue, who lives or how long it took might have added to my enjoyment. Sitting there not knowing in advance really helped hold my attention as I wondered if all 12 kids and their soccer coach would be rescued and how.
Now if you do know what happens, you’re still in luck. Director Ron Howard weaves a tense and uplifting story regardless of prior knowledge. You may know how it ends, but the setting, pacing and acting are all top-notch and you never feel bored as the story unfolds.
If you don’t know the story, 12 kids and their soccer coach got stuck in a cave that had flooded in Thailand. That is a very simplified explanation. These thirteen lives were screwed. They were low on oxygen, had no food and it takes almost half a day for professional divers and Thai Navy SEALs to even get to the kids each time. Howard makes these scenes extremely claustrophobic. It’s intense as you feel the struggle and doubt these men have trying to get to these kids and get them home. You hear SCUBA gear pinging off the cave walls and ceiling. You feel the water rushing in and hear these men gasping for air. The film is well over 2 hours long, but because of Howard’s intensity and pacing, it never feels long. The setting closes the viewer in as you follow these men through the thick of it all.
Then there’s the cast. Colin Farrell is an underrated actor and he’s great here. As the more calm and collected father, he’s very analytical and straight forward at his job. Viggo Mortensen is always good and he brings some comedic relief with one-liners, but you also feel his way of thinking as well. Joel Edgerton plays, well I won’t even hint at that because if you don’t know the story, you don’t know what he does in it and the less you know the better. The young cast of kids are equally as good and you 100% believe their collective performance.
Thirteen Lives is getting a limited release before hitting Amazon Prime Video and that’s a bummer to me. I firmly believe this flick deserves to be seen on the big screen, but most of the country won’t get to experience it that way. Despite the closed in perspective, I thought the film had scope on the big screen. Seeing all the water, seeing the size of the cave, the mountain and thousands of volunteers gives a perspective on just how grand of an event this was. I’m glad I got to see it at the theater and not just on a TV or laptop at home. To me it’s Ron Howard’s best movie since the criminally underrated Rush. Because of the film’s intensity, its cast and pacing, it is…
Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, Joel Edgerton, Tom Bateman, Paul Gleeson, Pattrakorn Tungsupakul, Tui Thiraphat Sajakul, James Teeradon Supapunpinyo, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Weir Sukollawat Kanaros
Rating: PG-13 for some strong language and unsettling images