Drama | Lionsgate Home Entertainment | Runtime: 99m | Rating: PG-13
Directed By: Tom Waller
Starring: Jim Warny, Ekawat Niratvorapanya, Lawrence de Stefano, Erik Brown
Synopsis: A harrowing portrayal of the real-life mission of elite divers from across the globe uniting to rescue a boys soccer team trapped in an intricate network of caves that are slowly filling with floodwaters.
What Tom Waller does with Cave Rescue is very much in the vein of other, based on real-event films such as Act of Valor, or 15:17 to Paris, by using some of the actual people from those events to essentially play themselves in this narrative. This does strip away the cinematic atmosphere replacing it with an admittedly appealing blend of detailed reenactment, cut with a documentary-eque delivery of the actions and decisions that took place and needed to be made to save these kids. This for the most part works effectively for Cave Rescue because it allows the rescue mission, the human effort taken to pull it off, and the effects this team of boys and their coach being trapped had on the people in the community, all to take center stage.
There are no splashy Hollywood names to pull the attention away. No one in this film really feels like they’re playing characters and it results in a highly immersive journey. Despite some awkwardly delivered dialogue here and there that doesn’t quite hit the mark. However, unlike other, more traditionally fictionalized biopics, Cave Rescue does feel…real. You can easily connect with the impact of this tragic event. The ramifications are front and center which naturally elevates the emotional intrigue as so many moving pieces become involved in this search and rescue. With staggering logistics and little time there is a clear element of constant tension.
Cave Rescue with its tight runtime captures this harrowing rescue mission from a variety of angles to put you right in the middle of everything. But it also comes at a slight cost. Waller has a clear focus on the rescue mission. There is little divulged about this group of boys and their coach. This could be a complaint to some as this movie sort of feels like it begins after it’s already started. Needing more backdrop on these kids however isn’t really needed in my opinion to sympathize any more with their ordeal. You can naturally feel human empathy for these trapped kids and the display of human spirit in action is more than enough to hit your heartstrings and keep you invested in seeing how this ordeal was accomplished and having you feeling the joy of achievement over the daunting hurdles that came along the way.
There are documentaries on this event. Ron Howard’s Thirteen Lives boast a star-studded cast that will certainly command the screen. Still, I think there is a place for Tom Waller’s Cave Rescue. It serves its purpose as a capable middle ground that may not provide a conventional plot progression but a film that can still reach in and grab your emotional sweet spot. The progression does try to cover a few too many aspects of this mission. It’s a bit crowded at times which results in the focus jumping too frequently. But it’s nothing that will prevent this inside look at the rescue of these boys from captivating your attention.
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2022 SilverScreen Analysis. All Rights Reserved.