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Thirteen Lives: release date, reviews, trailer and everything we know about the Ron Howard movie

Viggo Mortensen and Colin Farrell in Thirteen Lives
(Image credit: Vince Valitutti / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures)

The world was transfixed with the story of the Thai soccer team in 2018, as massive efforts were made to save a group of boys trapped in a flooded cave. While many may already be familiar with the results of the story, Thirteen Lives dramatizes the details of the rescue and incredible efforts by the group of divers, rescue teams and volunteers that were involved.

This is not the first movie to depict the events surrounding the Thai soccer team, as the 2021 documentary The Rescue (now available to stream on Disney Plus) was one of the best reviewed movies of that year. But if documentaries aren’t necessarily your thing, Thirteen Lives is a big Hollywood production featuring some of the best in the business.

Here is everything you need to know about Thirteen Lives.

When is the Thirteen Lives release date?

Thirteen Lives released on July 29 in select movie theaters and as of August 5 is available to watch on Prime Video wherever the streaming service is available.

Get the specifics on how to watch Thirteen Lives right here (opens in new tab).

What is the Thirteen Lives plot?

It’s only been four years since the real-life events of the Thai soccer team took place, but Thirteen Lives is going to offer a more detailed look into the rescue efforts. Here is the official synopsis:

"Thirteen Lives recounts the incredible true story of the tremendous global effort to rescue a Thai soccer team who become trapped in the Tham Luang cave during an unexpected rainstorm. Faced with insurmountable odds, a team of the world’s most skilled and experienced divers — uniquely able to navigate the maze of flooded, narrow cave tunnels — join with Thai forces and more than 10,000 volunteers to attempt a harrowing rescue of the twelve boys and their coach. With impossibly high stakes and the entire world watching, the group embarks on their most challenging dive yet, showcasing the limitlessness of the human spirit in the process."

Get some more info on the real-life event and how the movie depicts it with WTW's Fact vs Fiction: Thirteen Lives feature.

Thirteen Lives reviews — what the critics are saying

What to Watch's Thirteen Lives review is in, describing the big screen depiction of the true-life tale an enthralling depiction even if we all know the ending. The review also singles out a pair of excellent performances from Colin Farrell and Viggo Mortensen.

The critical consensus for Thirteen Lives via Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab) has the movie at an 88% "Fresh" (as of July 29). Another review aggregator site, Metacritic (opens in new tab), scores Thirteen Lives at a 64, which lands it in its "Good" tier.

Is there a Thirteen Lives trailer?

Prime Video has shared the first official trailer for Thirteen Lives. In it, we are given some of the details of what made this rescue mission so dangerous, but some of the most incredible details about it are just teased. Give a look at the trailer directly below. 

Prime Video has also shared a behind-the-scenes look at how Ron Howard and company brought the true life tale to the big screen:

Who is in the Thirteen Lives cast?

You probably recognized a number of the big name actors starring in Thirteen Lives from the trailer above, including Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell and Joel Edgerton, all three of which are player members of the diving team. Mortensen (Lord of the Rings, Captain Fantastic) plays Rick Stanton, Farrell (In Bruges, The Batman) is playing John Volanthen and Joel Edgerton (The Green Knight, Obi-Wan Kenobi) plays Harry Harris.

Other members of the cast include Tom Bateman (Death on the Nile) as Chris Jewell, Paul Gleeson (Home and Away) as Jason Mallinson, Pattrakorn Tungsupakul (The Perfect Couple) as Buahom, Tui Thiraphat Sajakul (The Maid) as Captain Arnot, James Teeradon Supapunpinyo (Girl from Nowhere) as Coach Ek, Sahajak Boonthanakit (Fistful of Vengeance) as Governor Narongsak and Weir Sukollawat Kanaros (Bangkok Breaking) as Saman.

What is Thirteen Lives rated?

Thirteen Lives is rated PG-13 in the US, for "some strong language and unsettling images."

How long is Thirteen Lives?

Thirteen Lives has a runtime of two hours and 22 minutes.

Who is directing Thirteen Lives?

Ron Howard is directing Thirteen Lives from a script by Oscar nominee William Nicholson (Gladiator, Les Miserables), with the story by Williamson and Don MacPherson.

Howard is a Hollywood lifer. Starting out as a child actor on The Andy Griffith Show and later in Happy Days and the movie American Graffiti, Howard has been a marquee director for years. Some of his best known work includes Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind (for which he won Best Director and Best Picture), Cinderella Man, Frost/Nixon and Rush.

Ron Howard spoke at about the movie at the recent London premiere. Here are some quotes from the director:

"There are many brands of risk taking and courage on display, much of it is physical, all of it is emotional. So much is at stake. It was a really emotional and tremendously challenging experience to make this movie. It was a labor of love from top to bottom."

"Authenticity was vitally important. My goal was to try to convey to an audience really something of what it was like to be there and achieve what these divers achieved. But it was much more complicated than I expected. The cave sets were so enclosed. There was barely room for a camera, so the actors ended up having to film each other!"

Michael Balderston
Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun.