Vol. 15, No. 23 – Aug 10 – Aug 23, 2022 – Movie Review

Streaming Spotlight by Cindy Summers
Thirteen Lives – Amazon Originals

4 out of 4 palm trees

Directed by Ron Howard, Thirteen Lives shares the incredible true story of the global effort to rescue a youth Thai soccer team that became trapped in the Tham Luang Cave when monsoon season came early and submerged the cave underwater. It took nearly two weeks to find the boys in the flooded cave system, and once located it took an international team of skilled cave divers, Navy SEALS and thousands of volunteers to develop a rescue plan and get the boys out alive.

On June 23, 2018, the Wild Boars soccer team finished their afternoon practice and decided to bike to the Tham Luang Cave in Khun Nam Nang Forest Park around 3pm for a group adventure before heading home to celebrate one of the player’s birthday. It was a sunny day and the coach decided to join the 12 boys to be certain they made it back safely before dark. Unexpected rain trapped them deep in the cave and when the boys didn’t arrive by 7:30pm the parents headed down the cave to see why the boys were delayed only to find all their bike parked outside.

Navy SEALS arrive early the next morning, but their efforts were hampered by their limited expertise in cave diving and continual flooding and collapses in the cave system due to the torrential rains. On Day 5, cave diving experts John Volanthen (Colin Farrell) and Rick Stanton (Vigo Mortensen) of the Coventry England Diving team arrived and on their first dive after four hours had moved 1600 meters from the entrance. Unfortunately the heavy rains began to cause equipment failures and injuries, to the governor temporarily ceased all rescue operation.

On Day 10, the governor sent the English team back in and they got much further than the Navy SEALS had before, traveling 2500 meters from the entrance over 6.5 hours and discovered all twelve boys and the coach, hungry and cold but alive. Seeming a cause for celebration, it was actually a cause for concern as there immediately seemed no logical way to safely get the boys out due to the hours it took to dive through the underwater cave system to reach them.

On Day 11, the Navy SEALS went back to in where the boys were trapped, but used too much air so only one could return. The English team developed a rescue plan that seemed dangerous, but also the only option get the boys out alive. They decided they would have to drug the boys so they would be unconscious and not panic during the long dive and continually dose them to remain unconscious while being guided underwater. Rick Stanton suggested they contact their diving friend Harry Harris (Joel Edgerton) who was also anesthesiologist who decided to use Ketamine.

On Day 15, officials approved the plan but said no information would be shared with the parents or media. The Navy SEALS went in first to bring needed supplies for the rescue, but unfortunately Navy SEAL Saman Gunan (Sukollawat Kanarot) drowned due to an equipment malfunction. On Day 16, John Volanthen and Rick Stanton lead a team of thirteen cave diving experts and five Navy SEALS who brought four boys out safely. On Day 17, they brought out five boys and on Day 18 they brought out the remaining three boys and coach, along with the Navy SEALS.

Days after the rescue the cave became completely submerged for the next 8 months. The rescue involved more than 10,000 people from 17 countries, including more than 100 divers, 900 police officers, 2000 soldiers, 100 government agencies, as well as ten police helicopters, seven ambulances, more than 700 diving cylinders, and the pumping of more than a billion liters of water from the caves. Farmers who suffered losses were offered government compensations and the coach and three of the boys, all stateless, were granted citizenship by the Thai government.

Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 2h 29m

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