The Rescue (12A)

The Rescue (12A)

Director: E. Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin

Runtime: 1h 47m

Cast: Rick Stanton, John Volanthen


Synopsis: The Rescue chronicles the dramatic 2018 rescue of twelve Thai boys and their soccer coach, trapped deep inside a flooded cave. Academy Award®-winning directors and producers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin reveal the perilous world of cave diving, the bravery of the rescuers, and the dedication of an entire community that made great sacrifices to save these young boys. An outing to explore a nearby system of caves after soccer practice transformed into a two-week saga of survival and a story that would capture the world’s attention. With exclusive access and never-before-seen footage from the rescue, the film tells the story of the imagination, determination and unprecedented teamwork displayed during this heroic edge-of-your-seat mission with life-or-death stakes.


This is the latest documentary from Oscar-winning producers/directors (and wife and husband) Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, whose previous work includes the excellent Meru and Free Solo, which won the Best Documentary Oscar in 2018. This new film is easily one of the best documentaries of the year.

The Rescue chronicles the enthralling, visceral against-all-odds story that transfixed the world in 2018: the daring rescue of twelve boys and their coach from deep inside a flooded cave in Northern Thailand. Using a wealth of never-before-seen material and exclusive interviews, E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin keep viewers on the edge of their seats as they bring alive one of the most perilous and extraordinary rescues in modern times, shining a light on the high-risk world of cave diving, the astounding courage and compassion of the rescuers, and the shared humanity of the international community that united to save the boys.

The Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Northern Thailand was a place the boys were familiar with — it is described as their playground. And it was not supposed to be a risky outing considering it was well before monsoon season when they went exploring after practice. But the rains came early and trapped the young boys and their coach. For days, no one even knew whether they were alive and Thai Navy SEALS were neither trained nor properly equipped to do this kind of cave diving. The situation became more dire with each passing day.

In fact cave diving is not something any elite emergency team in the world has trained for. The only experts are the weekend hobbyists, which is how a group of middle-aged British men became central to the operation.

The film makes unexpected stars of the British lead divers John Volanthen and Richard Stanton. The pair are quietly eccentric, thoughtful, humble and unbelievably good at their job (they set a British cave-diving record). But they are also sensitive, understated, middle-aged men. The responsibility and emotional weight of the rescue is written on their faces throughout, at times becoming almost unbearably moving.

Featuring never-before-seen footage, this clip from The Rescue shows divers Rick Stanton and John Volanthen as they finally find the twelve trapped boys inside the flooded cave – without knowing if they’ll be able to get them out in a race against time that took two weeks to complete.

Even though we know the outcome of what global news media called “Miracle in the Cave”, it unfolds as an edge-of-the-seat thriller with the clock ticking and mounting danger, especially as the monsoon season nears.

This film deserves to be seen both as a remarkable story of survival, determination, and ingenuity in the face of daunting odds and natural elements; and it is inspirational because of  the cooperation and humanity of the global community of rescuers, the courage of the divers and Thai Navy Seals and the bravery of the kids.


In cinemas

Images courtesy of National Geographic Documentary Films