Title – The Rescue (2021)
Directors – Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (Free Solo)
Cast – John Volanthen, Rick Stanton, Richard Harris
Plot – A documentary/re-enactment examination of the incredible 2018 Thailand cave rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped deep underground in an extensive cave system during a monsoon.
“Courage. Runs. Deep”
Review by Eddie on 30/03/2022
Fresh off their world conquering and Oscar winning doco Free Solo, directing duo and real life couple Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi return to the documentary space with their thrilling exploration of the captivating true life tale of the Thailand cave rescue of 12 young boys and their soccer coach that had the whole world watching in 2018.
Coming a year before Ron Howard’s Australian shot feature film of this event with Joel Edgerton and Colin Farrell hits the big screens, The Rescue is the most gripping and quintessential look at this unbelievable true life event yet, let down only by a mixture of recreated scenes that are filmed so well, the difference between what is “real” footage from the actual time and place and what has been faithfully reshot by the duo and the real life people of the rescue is hard to distinguish making you unsure about how too feel about what you are at times seeing.
Focused mainly on the lifesaving diving duo of Brits John Volanthen and Rick Stanton, who received help for their daring rescue plan from Australian doctor/diver Richard Harris, Chin and Vasarhelyi find some larger than life figures to walk us through the events leading up to the eventual safe return of the lost boys and their coach with the central duo making for likable and fascinating narrators of the events that were taking place in 2018 as the whole world watched on.
Bringing home just how dangerous and complicated the rescue mission of the 13 souls was, The Rescue does a great job of allowing those who had boots on the muddy ground to tell the story and relay their thoughts, feelings and experiences back to us, giving us as close to a first hand experience as we would ever care to have of the occurrence in the unforgiving and unrelenting cave system.
The problem with this experience is the aforementioned trouble discerning what is genuine captured footage and what is the more Hollywoodized version of events that Chin and Vasarhelyi shot in stages usually reserved for big budget event films, there’s nothing wrong with documentaries recreating certain events to add context and a visual guide but it would’ve been a great move for the film to make it more apparent as you can’t help but feel slightly manipulated by a film that never appears to be showing its true hand.
Final Say –
A fascinating subject matter makes for a thrilling if slightly manipulative documentary, The Rescue is proficiently made and put together and now lays down the gauntlet for Ron Howard to try and beat with his upcoming feature film.
3 1/2 foil blankets out of 5