Review: ‘Thirteen Lives’ gets lost in sprawling rescue story

Review: ‘Thirteen Lives’ gets lost in sprawling rescue story

Published August 5, 2022
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Twenty-seven years ago, Ron Howard’s “Apollo 13” saluted men with the right stuff — quiet courage and grace under pressure. This summer, he’s returned to that magic number for a similar rescue tale but traded the vastness of space for a film deep underground.

“Thirteen Lives” is a dramatization of what happened in July 2018 when 12 boys and their football coach were trapped in a flooded limestone cave in Thailand for several weeks. Like his space flick, it will take a lot of on-the-fly can-do to get them out.

This particular cave rescue is natural fodder for drama: A group of cave-diving hobbyists from Europe alongside Thai Navy SEALS and hundreds of farmers, engineers and helpers came together for a happy ending — all the boys and their coach survived. (That’s a spoiler if you’ve been in a literal cave for the past four years.) “Thirteen Lives” is available Friday on Prime Video.

There’s already been a cracking documentary — “The Rescue” from the “Free Solo” Oscar-winning filmmaking team of E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, who used body-cam footage of the rescue — and a Netflix six-part mini series that debuts in September.