Ron Howard was chosen as the director to bring this incredible tale, Thirteen Lives, to the big screen. Howard's directing credit reads like a who's who of Hollywood A-listers.
He has worked with everyone from Tom Hanks to Russell Crowe.
In many ways, Ron Howard is an excellent fit for the film. His previous credits include the real-life disaster movie Apollo 13 and the biographical sports drama Rush. He knows how to handle stories that are based on actual events.
WHAT IS THIRTEEN LIVES ABOUT?
The film recounts the 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue, in which a youth football team and their coach were trapped by rising water in a deep cave system far north of Thailand.
The story made headlines worldwide, and a massive rescue effort was mounted to save the group.
However, when the boys were located deep inside the cave system, it became clear that it would take enormous effort to extract them.
THIRTEEN LIVES OFFICIAL TRAILER
IS THIRTEEN LIVES WORTH WATCHING?
The problem with movies based on real-world events is that the audience already knows how they will end. This takes away one of the director's most potent weapons, suspense.
Without suspense, the filmmakers are left with few options other than making the characters compelling and telling the story with flair.
Unfortunately, Thirteen Lives does neither of these things.
The film is undoubtedly well-made, but it lacks the emotional punch to truly resonate with audiences. The movie feels oddly flat despite having a fantastic cast, it becomes clear that the film is trying to cover too much.
If the focus had been solely on the rescue team or the boys stuck in the cave, the movie would have been much better.
As it is, this film bounces from the boys to those organising the rescue, the parents, random Thai officials and to the cave divers assembled from around the world to bring the boys out alive.
In defence of Ron Howard, Covid regulations forced him to direct the movie remotely so it's possible that with a more hands-on approach, the film would have been better.
Despite its flaws, Thirteen Lives is still worth watching. However, if you want the full picture from the people who actually saved the boys, try the brilliant documentary The Rescue, which in many ways is superior to this movie.
CASTING THE FILM
Viggo Mortensen plays Richard Stanton, one of the British divers who had a pivotal role in the rescue operation. His performance might seem strange initially, but the real Richard Stanton is a straightforward and uncompromising man, and Mortensen captures this perfectly.
He isn't the only one who shines in the movie. Colin Farrell (In Bruges) and Joel Edgerton do a great job too. The three actors comprise the core of the cave rescue team. Unfortunately though, the script doesn't give them much scope to show their range.
The movie also boasts an all-star Thai cast, which is refreshing to see. This includes Sukollawat Kanarot and Vithaya Pansringarm, two of Thailand's most popular actors.
WHERE CAN I WATCH THIRTEEN LIVES?
Thirteen Lives is available to stream on the Amazon Prime Video platform. You can subscribe to Amazon Prime Video through Amazon.com or through the Prime Video app.
WHERE WAS THIRTEEN LIVES FILMED
The filming of the movie took place in Thailand and Australia. Queensland was used for many of the exterior mountain shots in the film. In addition, the production team built four giant tanks in an Australian warehouse to replicate the interior of the flooding cave system.
HOW MANY DAYS WERE THE 13 IN THE CAVE?
The boys were stuck in the cave for 18 days before they were rescued.
During a rescue attempt on 6 July, Saman Kunan, a 37-year-old former Royal Thai Navy SEAL, died of asphyxiation while returning to the staging area with diving cylinders after delivering them to the trapped group.
In 2021, rescue diver and Thai Navy SEAL Beirut Pakbara died from a blood infection he had acquired during the rescue mission.