Review by Dan Skip Allen
National Geographic Documentary Films have done various kinds of nonfiction films in the past, from animal docs to adventure docs. This time they are doing a real-life rescue doc. This is a life and death situation that they are filming. This situation was all over the news and the whole world was watching. The filmmakers, directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, are the same people that made Free Solo, the Academy Award-Winning doc from 2018.
The film takes place in Mai Sai, Thailand. It's about the Tham Luang cave rescue. A Thai soccer team consisting of 12 boys and their coach go exploring in a cave system and get stuck there due to flooding waters that start to fill up the cave system. They were there for 20 hours before anybody even noticed they were gone. The ages of the boys range from 11-16 years. Thai authorities bring in the Thai Navy Seals and Vern Unsworth, a consultant on cave exploration in Thailand.
The authorities reached out to the world's best cave divers to come in and help during this difficult situation. These were normal guys that cave-dived on the weekends. One was an electrician, another a doctor, but they all jumped at the chance to help when called upon. Once they arrived, they went right to work, trying to figure out how to rescue these boys and their coach. The first step was to see if they were still alive. That was a feat in and of itself. The Thai Navy seals were a bit suspicious about the rescue and backed out to the third chamber. They wouldn't go any further. So it was up to the British divers to figure out how to save these young people and their coach.
This whole cave system had a claustrophobic nature to it. The waters were swiftly filling up the system because this was monsoon season in Thailand. This made this rescue an uncertain circumstance because the cave will fill up with water and everybody will die. This film is a life and death drama before the eyes of everybody and it was done masterfully. The camera work was exquisitely pieced together. The editing was superb. The talking heads ranging from a wife of a Thai Marine to the actual British divers brought a serious yet somber nature to every word they spoke.
The filmmakers added some interesting touches to the film to add information to the viewers. Animatics helped to give the people watching a better view of the cave system and how the various rescue scenarios were going to unfold. This was a very good idea as far as the filming of this situation goes. Mixing all these different techniques helped make this film one of the best docs of this year and a sure-fire contender for the Academy Award nomination come awards season.
Great documentaries keep the viewers engaged throughout due to the story and of those depicted within the said film. This was a film about the survival of young people and it was all over the world's stage on various news outlets. The actual footage from the rescue was used superbly by the filmmakers. The Rescue was about the harrowing rescue that captured the world's attention and it lived up to the actual situation.
The Rescue hits theaters on October 8.