Thirteen Lives Review: Ron Howard’s Biopic of the Perilous Cave Rescue

Thirteen Lives

The Tham Luang cave rescue was a 2018 event in Thailand that had tens of thousands of people volunteering to save the lives of a junior soccer team and their coach, who were trapped for 18 days deep inside a cave. The National Geographic documentary, The Rescue, helped the audience understand the difficulties in saving the trapped team. With an inspirational story of bravery, it has spawned a biopic, Thirteen Lives. Directed by Ron Howard, it stars Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, Joel Edgerton, and Tom Bateman. The film captures the heroism and tough mission the volunteers and divers had to go through. The cast gives solid performances.

Tham Luang Cave

Set in northern Thailand, the young soccer team and their coach are off to explore the Tham Luang cave. An unexpected rainfall has caused them to be trapped with floods of water preventing them from reaching the cave entrance. The Thailand government and the people have a tough time trying to get the soccer team out. Afterward, a British caver suggested the government enlist aid from the British Cave Rescue Council (BCRC). Viggo Mortensen plays Richard Stanton and Colin Farrell is John Volanthen, two volunteer BCRC rescuers who team up with the government and the Thai Navy SEALs divers to help with the mission.

The Perilous Cave Rescue

Ron Howard is straightforward with his storytelling in the film. Thirteen Lives focuses on the many volunteers and the government trying to figure out ways to save the young lives and their coach. The BCRC rescuers are equipped and experienced, and the film focuses on their tactics and the difficulty in their plans. There are shots and graphics that show how deep the soccer team has traveled, and how dangerous it was for the rescuers to travel underwater inside a cave. With time slowly running out, the British rescuers have to devise a plan. Additionally, they have to deal with mother nature and the public watching their every move. If one life is lost, their future will be tougher. But if they succeed, they will succeed in their mission and become heroes.

Actors like Farrell and Mortensen have different personalities, and together they convey individuals with expertise in cave rescues while showing a bit of their background. Joel Edgerton plays Richard Harris, an anesthetist who has a very tough choice. The actor’s portrayal was that of uncertainty and fear. He tries to come up with a solution under pressure with time slowly running out, and Edgerton delivers with his acting.

With the cave rescue being a tough task, the filmmakers captured that feeling with scenes of the divers and rescuers having trouble swimming through the cave. One shot has a diver losing track of the roped guidelines, giving off a sense of not knowing where you are with the murky and flooding water.

Thirteen Lives Final Reaction

Thirteen Lives is a film that shows the good of humanity coming together and volunteering their lives to rescue others in need of help. The actors give fine and grounded performances. Ron Howard has adapted the true story that conveys how dangerous the mission was and how civilians and the military can come together for the common good.

Score: 4/5 Atoms

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