Ron Howard is an expert in making survival dramas. Anybody who has watched Apollo 13 would remember how beautifully and terrifyingly he captured the hopelessness and claustrophobia of the situation. Well, believe it or not, in Thirteen Lives, he does it again and I feel does it better this time. The vacuum of space is replaced by the ferocity of water but the tension, thrill and nerve-wracking anxiety are all here. The veteran filmmaker proves emphatically that one doesn’t need huge budgets, VFX, or superheroes to make a good film. Just give a good story and strong cast, and one will deliver a masterpiece, which Thirteen Lives truly is. Also read: Colin Farrell on how shooting Thirteen Lives was tougher than playing Penguin in The Batman
Thirteen Lives is based on the infamous 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue, where 12 children and their football coach were trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand for three weeks. Despite the Thai military’s best efforts, the kids remained trapped for days and it took the efforts of expert cave divers from UK and Australia to finally reach and save them. The film, which releases on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, August 5, retells the story of this extraordinary rescue from the perspective of the divers, the children and their families, and the hapless local authorities.
I will admit I was apprehensive when I first learnt of the film. It is so easy to cast white actors in a film about a tragedy in the Third World and turn it into a ‘white saviour’ tale. But Ron Howard deftly steers clear of that. He treats the story and the country with utmost sincerity and respect, highlighting the role of the local authorities and residents as well. It is not the story of four white men teaching some Thai people how to do their jobs, but the tale of four ordinary men enabling a community to save their children.