Thirteen Lives Trailer: Ron Howard Recreates The Thai Cave Rescue

Brace yourselves: the trailer for Ron Howard's new film "Thirteen Lives" is here, and the filmmaker's take on the 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue looks like it'll be an endlessly intense race against the clock. The film is a seemingly very true-to-life dramatization of the harrowing news story that captured the world's attention, when twelve children on a Thai soccer team and their assistant coach ended up trapped in a flooded cave for 18 days.

If you've seen Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin's award-winning 2021 documentary "The Rescue," you already know that this is a riveting, pulse-pounding story that is almost certain to provoke a few tears from viewers. The National Geographic documentary captured an inside look at the delicate yet urgent process rescue teams had to undertake, first to find the lost boys, then to figure out how to bring them out without risking further injury or drowning.

Miraculously, all thirteen were rescued thanks to the resources of thousands of volunteers and a daring and strategically planned series of dives executed by professional cave divers. The new movie stars Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, and Joel Edgerton as three members of the team of British and Australian divers who ultimately recovered all twelve children and their soccer coach. Check it out below.

A harrowing true story gets the big-screen treatment

From this trailer, "Thirteen Lives" looks like it follows the narrative presented by non-fiction accounts of the story very closely. The footage shows the soccer team set out to explore the cave, coupled with shots of water rushing into it. From here, we see Farrell's character, British diver John Volanthen, giving Mortensen's Rick Stanton the rundown on the tricky situation unfolding. The clips get into the general danger of cave diving and the on-the-ground response to the crisis, and also show the hear-rending moment when one of the divers first surfaces and sees the emaciated boys, only to realize he can't bring them all back right away.

Hopefully, the power of this story translates to fiction. Howard's version so far seems to understand that the truth of the matter needs no embellishment, as the real-life cave rescue is a daunting, complex, and ultimately triumphant expedition that's thrilling enough as is. At one point in the trailer, anesthesiologist Richard Harris (Edgerton) says he's expecting casualties on the extraction mission, likely a reference to the team's risky gambit to sedate the boys to make their underwater rescue easier. The movie also makes reference to a diver, former Thai Navy SEAL Saman Kunan, who died during one rescue attempt.

So far, "Thirteen Lives" looks like a tense and gripping take on a real-life story. The film will be available in theaters on July 29, 2022, and will hit Prime Video on August 5, 2022.