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Updated: Feb 22, 2023

What should have been an emotional slam dunk becomes a perfunctory, overlong docudrama which oddly fails to engage you at any point.

The true-life story of the rescue of a young soccer team from a flooding Thai cave, which dominated the news four years ago, should have made for an emotional slam dunk of a movie. In the hands of director Ron Howard it becomes a perfunctory, overlong, often boring docudrama however, which oddly fails to engage you.

Part of the problem is that Thirteen Lives never decides on a singular point of view. Does the film want you to feel the agony of the desperate parents, the political pressure on the governor of the province or the toll the dangerous rescue mission exerts on the international diving team? That is never clear, leading to a muddled, unfocused movie.

The insistence on recreating the events as they unfolded also prevents Thirteen Lives from using narrative tricks that would have upped the suspense.

Add to this a cast in which only Colin Farrell manages to create a fully-rounded character and you have a film that wastes just about every opportunity to tell a compelling tale.

release: 2022

director: Ron Howard

starring: Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, Joel Edgerton, Girati Sugiyama


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