The last film from Elizabeth Chai Vasarhely and Jimmy Chin was the Oscar-winning, bone-chilling Free Solo. National Geographic handed them the reins to tell the story of what is commonly known as the Thai cave rescue. Once again, the Director duo deliver a pulsating story about men who pursue a death-defying sport, except this time the hobby enables the saving of 13 lives.
This is the third documentary I’ve reviewed about the Thai cave rescue (see Thai Cave Rescue and 13 Lost). On Jun-23-2018, the boys of a soccer team and their coach were trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand. It took 10 days to determine they were still alive, and then it took 8 more days to find a way to get them out. The last boy was rescued on Jul-10. It’s strange to be reminded that the team was trapped for most of the 2018 World Cup.
But the film of course is not about football. It’s about bravery, resilience, multi-national and multi-cultural cooperation, and spirituality. It’s a little bit about risk-taking. It’s a little bit about how to convince yourself to make life and death decisions, and then convince the guys at the top to agree. And finally, it’s a little bit about the psyche of cave divers and what it takes to go on a rescue mission that puts your life as much at risk as the person you are trying to help.
Expect this film to be the best
There are at least 2 more Thai cave rescue films/series in development. But I sense that Vasarhelyi & Chin’s film will be the best because they make you feel like you are there, shivering in cold rushing water, smelling the pungent stale air, and feeling the urgency to finish the mission before monsoons wipe out everything that’s been done.
The level of detail of the Thai, American, and British operation is much greater than the other films and articles I’ve read. However, with all the competition for movie rights, The Rescue does not cover the efforts of the local expats, who are recorded in 13 Lost.
The Rescue also benefits from 87 hours of footage the directors received from the Thai Navy Seals, who did so much of the work that enabled the international expert cave divers to reach the children. The filmmakers also reenacted some underwater scenes. Overall, the film gives a sense of the bravery that every step requires from all of the 5,000 rescuers. It is truly an inspiring film.
8 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 8