Movie review and ending explanation

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Thirteen Lives (2022) Review: A sincere effort that privileges realism over dramatic bracing

Thirteen Lives is based on a miraculous true story that took place in Thailand in 2018, also known as the Tham Luang cave rescue, where a group of 13 people (12 boys and their soccer coach) were trapped inside a flooded cave. for three weeks. The incident is fairly recent and was covered twice for the screen: in Feras Fayyad’s 2019 film The Cave and in last year’s documentary by Academy Award-winning filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin. In this retelling, directed by Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind), the incident gets a painstakingly detailed chronological view of the operation that took place in that frenetic situation.

Though most of the details are amply covered, Thirteen Lives soars with a heartfelt script that favors realism over dramatic bracing and terrific performances from its multi-star cast, including Colin Farrell, Viggo Mortensen and Joel Edgerton.

Howard takes some liberties, but mostly stays true to the original incident that took place. In Thirteen Lives, there are no heroes or saviors: each of them is trying to see the impossible circumstances and make sense of them.

The rescuers, divers, doctors, together with the governor join with the common mission of getting the thirteen people out of the cave. There are many visually stunning sequences within the cave, half submerged, presented with recurring themes of survival and ethical awareness. The two-hour-long narrative demands an in-depth look to track down the details you must have missed while watching it.

Read on for all the answers to the questions that linger. If you have not yet seen the extraordinary film, I ask you to be watch out for spoilers. Happy reading!

Thirteen Lives Plot Summary and Movie Synopsis:

Thirteen Lives begins with a sense of impending doom as a group of soccer players, all of them children, along with their coach carelessly travel down the path to the huge cave. They keep their bikes on the rack near the entrance and move inside. It rains heavily for the next two hours and the water seeps into the cave with such ferocity that it is impossible for the children to get out.

Back home, her parents start to panic and the news spreads quickly. Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn (Sahajak Boonthanakit) and General Anupong Paochinda (Vithaya Pansringarm) arrive and deploy men to come up with a quick rescue plan.

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As the situation escalates with endless rains and no solution in sight, international help is required. This is when the British divers Richard Stanton and John Volanthen arrive, played by Viggo Mortensen and Colin Farrell respectively. They eventually locate the trapped children at the other end of the narrow, winding cave, an unimaginable task to cross, let alone bring back not one or two, but thirteen living souls.

The danger of bringing back the children from inside the cave.

“If you try to rescue them, what you will get are dead bodies.” Local Thai inhabitants help the team stop rain from seeping into the cave by locating sinkholes at the top. Pumps are installed inside the cave to remove the water from inside. However, the danger remains. The oxygen count inside the cave drops rapidly, spreading panic, with international media coverage everywhere.

How can the team, complete with wetsuits and oxygen cylinders, make sure everyone trapped gets out alive? That would mean additional cylinders, as the time marks almost two hours to get out of the far end of the cave. It is here that anesthesiologist Richard Harris (Edgerton) comes up with the devised plan to sedate the children so they don’t use much more oxygen in a hyperactive state. But will this work? What are the possibilities of such an operation that has never been tried before?

The Action Plan: Do All the Boys Survive?

In executing the plan, the team also loses one of their dive members. However, there is no other solution available with the increasing pressure. If any of them die, they will be to blame. Parents are not given any details of this procedure, and all details are limited to members of the rescue team only.

One by one, with immense control and precision, they cover a distance of almost 2 miles through narrow cracks, to bring each of the children back to a sedated state.

Explanation of Thirteen Lives Movie Themes:

Triumph of the human spirit:

At the core of Ron Howard’s fictional account of this true story is the inevitable triumph of the human spirit. In the face of such an impossible situation, it is the determination shown by the members of the rescue team, combined with the hard work and faith of the official staff and board members, that such an operation came to be rewarding.

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The local community came together; their contribution comes to the fore in William Nicholson’s script, where they agree to flood their cultivated land to move the pumped water. There is no division between people, they are united for a single cause.

Thirteen Lives (1) Movie Review Ending Explanation

Reality versus faith:

Mortensen’s character does not claim to have formed any inclination toward luck and prayers to save the cave children. The men are objective and sensible in their choices and circumstances, which is in stark contrast to the local community who pray to the Mountain God to save them from sins committed in the past.

The relevance of spiritual faith is immense in the Thai community, which unites them. They pass red threads to tie on the rescue team’s wrists to bring luck and protection, though Stanton immediately dismisses it. He discards any kind of superstitious belief and believes in acting more than waiting. Either way, Howard just keeps that dilemma open for his audience to place.

Explanation of the ending of the movie Thirteen Lives:

In the deeply moving and edge-of-the-seat final thirty minutes of Thirteen Lives, the collective team of rescue divers, instructors and crew members go through a physically and mentally grueling process to get to the place where the thirteen children are trapped inside. Cave.

They were put into wetsuits, attached to oxygen cylinders, sedated and led back to the entrance, one by one. Shortly after the rescue mission is successful, Harris learns that his long-suffering father has passed away. The film ends on a note of relief and ecstasy, as one of the boys celebrates his birthday with the rest of the group and Stanton and Volanthen return to their respective homes.

Howard’s film could have easily fallen under the white savior stereotype, but it doesn’t. Thirteen Lives moves confidently and calmly, aided by stunning images from renowned Thai cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, for an immersive look at courage and determination as a community bands together to achieve the impossible.

Also, read – Prey (2022): Explanation of the review and the ending of the film


Thirteen Lives (2022) Movie Links – IMDb, rotten tomatoes
Thirteen Lives (2022) Movie Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, Joel Edgerton, Tom Bateman
Where to watch Thirteen Lives

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