THIRTEEN LIVES – Review by T. J. Callahan

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Thirteen Lives: “We bloody did it, lads.”

Director, Ron Howard and a star studded cast team up to tell the harrowing story of the soccer team that got trapped in a Thailand cave on June 23rd, 2018.
A disaster seen around the world, Thirteen Lives, at 2 1⁄2 hours, gives us a day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute account from the time the Wild Boars entered the Tham Luang cave system until the last one was pulled to safety after unexpected monsoon rains flooded the cavity and left the boys and their coach stranded for 18 days.

Colin Farrell, Viggo Mortensen and Joel Edgerton play the British dive experts who were summoned by the Thai government to assist their country’s Navy SEALs with the rescue. Farrell and Mortensen did their own diving in the film which made editing much easier for Howard. Ron is becoming known as the “You Are There” filmmaker, putting us on the front row of heroic history with such biological dramas as Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind and Frost/Nixon. In Thirteen Lives we don’t get to know the 12 boys as well as we do those who are involved in the massive rescue attempt, but we feel their anxiety and fear as well as that of those working and praying for their safety. The depth of bravery among all involved is unimaginable.

Even though we know the incredible outcome and a true to fact documentary on the incident (The Rescue) came out last year, Thirteen Lives is still appropriately tense and thrilling despite being told with Hollywood theatrics. Only Ron Howard can do that. Thirteen Lives get an 8 out of 10. See it if you are not claustrophobic on Amazon Prime beginning August 5th.

*A dueling cave rescue film, appropriately titled Cave Rescue, is also opening in theaters this weekend. Directed by Tom Waller, this film follows the same timeline as Thirteen Lives, but is more consolidated, uses some of the real rescuers and real footage, but is less compelling and harder to understand. See either of the other two films first.

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T. J. Callahan

Longtime Houston radio personality, T.J. Callahan switched gears from traffic and news reporting as a member of the award winning Hudson and Harrigan Show on KILT to directing you to the right movie theatre as the resident film critic for The Sam Malone Show on AM 1070 The Answer in Houston. Since 2009, T.J. has exclusively critiqued premiering films on such stations as KRMD in Shreveport, La., KILT in Houston, WCKT in Sarasota, Fla., as well as on The Chris X Blayney Show on The Liberty Eagle Radio Network and streaming on Radio Brave. Entertaining and informative, T.J. gets right to the point and lets you know whether the latest epic is worth your time. Listen to her live every Thursday morning at 9:20 central on KNTH. T.J. is also a proud member of the Critics Choice Association, the Houston Film Critics Society and a board member and 2017 inductee to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.