Film Review – Thirteen Lives (2022)

Title – Thirteen Lives (2022)

Director – Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind)

Cast – Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, Joel Edgerton

Plot – Based on the true story of the 2018 Thai cave rescue mission that saw people from all over the world band together to help aid in the efforts to rescue 12 young boys and their soccer coach from a severly flooded cave they were exploring. 

“It takes a certain kind of mindset for the deep cave diving”

Review by Eddie on 26/08/2022

Over the last 10 – 15 years the career of beloved TV actor turned Academy Award winning director Ron Howard has turned more and more into a workmanlike loop, one that sees the talented if often uninspiring talent either bait Oscar voters with surefire award hits or direct mindless blockbuster’s designed purely for mass entertainment and nothing else. 

Leaning towards his former staple, the based on the true story Thirteen Lives is the usual type of Howard film that would’ve in times past shown up in limited showings around the Xmas period with hope of making its way into some Top 10 of the year lists and snaring a few cheeky award nominations but after falling victim to the recent MGM aquirement that has seen much of its line up of films be shunned too direct to streaming offerings, Thirteen Lives is unlikely to make much of a mark despite its innoffensive treatment of a miraculous true story that is far more engaging than this effort. 

Facing another hurdle in the fact just mere months ago in 2021 the BAFTA nominated The Rescue came out, a documentary that mixed real life footage with carefully recreated reinactments of this incident, for anyone that has watched that film or carefully studied the story of 13 Thailand souls trapped in a deadly underground cave system, Howard’s effort here suffers badly from what has come before it and while it’s precision to accuracy can be applauded, when weighed up against The Rescue it pales in comparion in the tension and character building stakes. 

Nabbing an all-star cast to bring proceedings some extra prestige, Howard’s actors all deliver typically solid turns, with it particulary good to once more see Viggo Mortensen in a Hollywood leading role and Colin Farrell and Joel Edgerton doing well in their turns as the trio bring the real life heroes of Rick Stanton, John Volanthen and Harry Harris to life but with a lack of development or background exploration of these amazing true figures halting the emotional enagement levels of Thirteen Lives in its tracks, even if there’s no doubt many viewers will be kept on tenterhooks in the films trial against the odds final act.

Much like he has done with recent efforts like In the Heart of the Sea, Solo: A Star Wars Story and Hillbilly Elergy, Howard directs Thirteen Lives like you would expect someone to do sticking very closely to the Hollywood rulebook 101, there’s little surprise with his decisions, little flair with how things are shot and there being a feeling that while perfectly watchable and no doubt effective in certain circles, Thirteen Lives is another Howard film that is happy in its generic self at all times and for a story like this, one would’ve hoped for a little more imagaination and heart. 

Final Say – 

Unlikely to make much of a dent in any signifcantly impactful way, Thirteen Lives is another mildly entertaining Ron Howard drama that is unable to better its preceeding documentary counterpart and becomes a film that misses a chance to turn a miraculous true story into a similary special viewing experience. 

3 Spongebob Squarepants cakes out of 5  

2 responses to “Film Review – Thirteen Lives (2022)

  1. I hate to keep reading this one doesn’t shine the way it could. I’m going to give it a try, mostly because I’d like to see what was happening behind the headlines, but my expectations will be throttled down.

    • I would very strongly recommend checking out the documentary The Rescue on Disney plus as a first entry to the incident. I too did hope that this one was a little more memorable than it ended up being.

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