Ron Howard does it again. This time, the prolific director takes his talents to Thailand in a fast-paced, enthralling retelling of a miracle. Thirteen Lives (On Amazon Prime Video August 5) tells the incredible true story of the Thai Cave Rescue, an event that captivated the world. Starring Viggo Mortensen and Colin Farrell as the heroic volunteer divers, this dramatic thriller leaves you on the edge of your seat – even when you know the ending.
Written by William Nicholson with Don MacPherson, the film goes back to the summer of 2018 when a dozen young soccer players and the team’s coach kill time between practice and a birthday party by exploring the Tham Luang cave. Though the cave was known to flood during Thailand’s monsoon season, the group of boys went in through the narrow entrance and quickly found themselves in trouble —the water was rising fast and there was no way out.
Days turned into weeks and their rescue became an international story, with people from all over the world rooting for their survival. Unbelievably, they were. All thirteen members of the group were rescued after an unprecedented effort by the Thai military, international volunteers, and local villagers – and most importantly – because of experienced British divers John Volanthen and Richard Stanton.
The film’s intense pace, tone and ticking clock start from the opening sequence, with a pressure that eases occasionally throughout – but only for a moment before it’s back in the caves. The visual recreation of winding, flooding caves are a cinematic feat for the filmmakers and crew whose efforts to recreate a painstakingly complicated rescue will not go unnoticed by any viewer.
Viggo Mortensen is a calm, steady presence throughout an otherwise tense movie. He and Colin Ferrell, together, bring a comforting and familiar energy to an otherwise anxiety-inducing two and a half hours. But the anxiety is proof that Howard is doing his job – and doing it right. He brings you back to those unpredictable few weeks to remind you of the humans who succeeded in their superhuman efforts to save lives – thirteen of them.