Thirteen Lives movie: true story of Thai cave rescue film, trailer, cast - and does it feature Elon Musk?

Thirteen Lives is a dramatisation of the mission to rescue 12 children and their football coach from a cave in Thailand in 2018

Thirteen Lives is an Amazon Prime drama film based on the 18-day international operation to rescue 13 people from a cave in Thailand during a monsoon.

Colin Farrell and Viggo Mortensen lead the cast of the film, playing the real cave divers who risked their lives to bring those trapped in the cave to safety.

What happened during the Thai cave rescue, was Elon Musk involved, and how can you watch Thirteen Lives? Here is eveything you need to know:

Thirteen Lives

Is Thirteen Lives based on a true story?

Thirteen Lives is a dramatisation of the 18 day long mission to rescue 12 boys aged 11-16 and their 25-year-old football coach from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Thailand.

The group entered the cave on 23 June 2018 after a practice football session but became trapped after heavy rainfall blocked their exit.

Early attempts to rescue the group by Thai Navy SEALs failed, and a team of cave divers recommended by Vern Unsworth, a British expat caver living near the site, were chosen to join the rescue operation.

Rick Stanton, John Volanthen, Harry Harris, and Chris Jewell were directly in rescuing all 13 people trapped in the cave.

Eventually, a plan was established to send in cave divers to swim the boys out - each child was given anaesthetic ketamine so that they would be unconscious during their rescue, preventing them from panicking and endangering their own lives.

Cave diver Richard Stanton was involved in the rescue

At the time of the rescue, the plan was considered to be high-risk but also the only realistic chance that the 13 cavers had for survival.

The rescue was a resounding success, and all 12 boys and their coach were safely extracted from the cave.

Saman Kunan, a former Thai navy diver and volunteer of the rescue mission, died while placing diving cylinders along the route in the cave.

In December 2019 Beirut Pakbara, a Thai Navy SEAL, died of a blood infection contracted during the operation.

Is Elon Musk in Thirteen Lives?

Elon Musk is not featured or played in the film, but the tech billionaire did make headlines during the rescue operation.

Musk offered to build a mini-submarine to help the operation but this was rejected by Unsworth on the grounds that it would not be practical.

After the perceived snub, Musk referred to Unsworth as a ‘pedo guy’ in a tweet, causing outrage as Unsworth was leading the charge to save thirteen lives.

Musk’s tweet led to a defamation case, with Unsworth seeking £145 million for reputational damage, although Musk won the case.

Who is in the cast of Thirteen Lives?

Viggo Mortensen plays Rick Stanton, one of the lead cave divers involved in the rescue mission.

Mortensen is best-known for playing Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. His other big roles include playing Ben in Captain Fantastic, Tony Lip in Green Book, and Tom Stall in A History of Violence.

Colin Farrell plays John Volanthen, another of the British cave divers. Farrell will be recognised for playing Ray in In Bruges, David in The Lobster, and Graves in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Other members of the cast include:

  • Joel Edgerton as Harry Harris
  • Tom Bateman as Chris Jewell
  • Paul Gleeson as Jason Mallinson
  • Teeradon Supapunpinyo as Coach
  • Girati Sugiyama as Lek
  • Pasakorn Hoyhon as Chai
  • Tanatat Srita as Arm
  • Nophand Boonyai as Thanet Natisri
  • Kaokuson Sorapap as Aat
  • Sukniran Sukcharoen as Poom
  • Ensai O’Haire as Decha
  • Thanthapthai Chanin as Dew
  • Achi Jinapanyo as Prem
  • Thanaphat Thopiata as Wit
  • Phitakphong Boonnet as Rit
  • Joe Chuensawan as Tul

When is the release date of Thirteen Lives?

Thirteen Lives received a limited cinematic release in the UK on 5 August, and was released on Amazon Prime Video on the same day.

Is there a trailer?

Yes there is, and you can watch it right here: