Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind director Ron Howard is bringing another incredible true story to the big screen.
The suspenseful movie Thirteen Lives dramatizes the 2018 ordeal in which twelve adolescent soccer players and their coach became trapped in a flooding cave in Thailand for more than two weeks. With little food and limited oxygen, their lives were in grave danger.
An international team of divers, experts and military joined forces with the Thai government to pull off an incredible rescue effort that grabbed headlines worldwide.
Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, Joel Edgerton and Tom Bateman play real-life cave divers Rick Stanton, John Volanthen, Harry Harris and Chris Jewell, respectively, who were all instrumental in pulling off the feat.
The trailer for Thirteen Lives captures the tension and life-and-death decision-making the men grappled with while devising a rescue plan. "It looks easy, but when it's flooded, it's impossible," Farrell's character, Volanthen, says about navigating the cave.
Vince Valitutti/Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures
Later, while trying to figure out how to safely get all 13 people the mile and a half distance from where they were trapped to the opening of the cave, Mortensen's character, Stanton, sums up the stakes: "You try to dive those kids the whole way, all you'll be bringing out is dead bodies!"
Ultimately, Harris, who is also an anesthesiologist, administered sedatives to the group to knock them out so they could be safely transported without panicking and endangering themselves. "He knew that if he didn't give it a try, that the chances were that all the kids would perish anyway," Edgerton explained during a virtual June 27 press conference.
Howard, who called the story "very cinematic and intense and suspenseful," had the real-life divers on-hand to train the actors and answer all their questions about the mission. "They helped us to not only swim like them and move like them, but to be safe," Mortensen added at the press conference. "We listened very carefully."
Vince Valitutti / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures
For some of the actors, reenacting the scenes on the Australian set felt all too real. "I'm claustrophobic so I struggled pretty much every day," Bateman admitted. Farrell, for his part, also confessed to being "nervous" for the entire shoot because "I can't really swim."
But the real-life heroes, just like they did with the boys in the cave, helped the actors every step of the way to overcome their fears.
As Howard noted, "When people pull together, incredible things can happen."
Thirteen Lives premieres in theaters nationwide on Friday, July 29 and begins streaming on Prime Video Friday, August 5.