Ron Howard is no stranger to turning sentimental real-life events into tear-jerking cinema, and the prolific director is back at it again in the first trailer for MGM’s Thirteen Lives. Acquired by Amazon in the $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM back in March, the film had previously had its release window pushed to November after receiving extremely strong audience test scores, but Amazon then moved it back to the summer. The film will play in select theaters beginning July 29, 2022 before becoming available to stream on Amazon Prime Video on Aug. 5, 2022, though it presumably still has some awards aspirations.
Thirteen Lives is a dramatized account of the Tham Luang (Thailand) underwater cave rescue that captivated the world in the summer of 2018. As the official synopsis puts it:
In the true story of Thirteen Lives, twelve boys and the coach of a Thai soccer team explore the Tham Luang cave when an unexpected rainstorm traps them in a chamber inside the mountain. Entombed behind a maze of flooded cave tunnels, they face impossible odds. A team of world-class divers navigate through miles of dangerous cave networks to discover that finding the boys is only the beginning.
Directed by Howard, who is trying to rebound from the cold reception of Hillbilly Elegy, Thirteen Lives stars the strong central trio of Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell and Joel Edgerton as three of the men who formulated a complex, daring plan to rescue the trapped soccer team. Mortensen and Farrell play British cave/rescue divers Richard Stanton and John Volanthen respectively, while Edgerton is portraying Dr. Richard Harris, and anesthetist who ultimately accompanied the rescue to anesthetize each of the victims so they could be taken on a three-hour journey through the network of underground, flooded caves without panicking. It was determined that this was the only viable way of getting the boys out in time, as the caves proved to be so treacherous that even a former Royal Thai Navy SEAL, Saman Kunan, perished of asphyxiation during the process of planning the escape. Remarkably, all the soccer team and their coach (the titular 13 lives) were safely rescued.
Several films have already been produced on the incident, including documentary The Rescue and the 2019 Thai film The Cave. You can see Howard’s collection of Hollywood A-listers, meanwhile, taking on the dive in the trailer below. Heads up: If you suffer from claustrophobia, this is not going to be the film for you.