With Thirteen Lives, Ron Howard succeeds once more. Following the films, Everest (2015) and Apollo 13 (1995), Howard and author William Nicholson turn their attention to another story of human endurance based on actual events. The rescue of 12 boys between the ages of 11 and 16 as well as their 25-year-old coach who were all trapped in a cave in Chiang Rai Province, northern Thailand, is the subject of Howard’s book Thirteen Lives.
The youngsters and coach Ekkaphon Chanthawong (Teeradon Supapunpinyo) decide to visit the Tham Luang Nang Non-cave system on June 23, 2018, after football practice. The youngsters and the coach are trapped in the caverns when a heavy, out-of-season downpour causes them to flood.
Parents and local officials visit the caverns where they discover the boys’ abandoned possessions and bicycles when the boys fail to come home. Narrow tunnels, perilous choke points, and twists and turns may be found in the 10-kilometre-long cave system that runs beneath the Doi Nang Non-mountain range on the Thai-Myanmar border.
Lewis Fitz-character, Gerald’s Vernon Unsworth, a British cave diver with extensive local expertise, advises that the authorities contact the British Cave Rescue Council (BCRC). Under the direction of Captain Arnont, Thai Navy SEALS began their search for the missing lads on June 25. When urged to wait until the boys were rescued, Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn (Sahajak Boonthanakit) was on his way out. Saman Kunan (Sukollawat Kanarot), a former Navy SEAL, is one of several people who join the rescue operation.
Rescue efforts are hampered by floods and the fear of the coming monsoon even as the plight of the missing lads draws attention from all over the world and assistance from all around the world (including technical support on dewatering and pumps from India) pours in.
Despite knowing the ending, Howard has written a compelling drama, and the performers that brought this remarkable story to life are all at the top of their games. Thirteen Lives, which was filmed in Queensland and Thailand, vividly captures the suspense and exhilaration of being opposed to Mother Nature, as well as the filth, mayhem, and fury of the elements.
Howard has produced a definite adrenaline rush with the addition of a countdown clock and calendar, overlay maps, torrential rain, chanting of prayers, scalding hot meals, and the darkness the lads are in.