THE RESCUE

★★★★

13 LIVES SAVED THROUGH THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY OF CIRCUMSTANCES

SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
By Jess Fenton
12th November 2021

In 2018, the world became enthralled by the tale of the boys' soccer team and their coach becoming trapped inside the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand. After a harrowing 18 days, all 13 were successfully rescued. For almost three weeks, we saw news report after news report and read article after article about the dangers, the perils and the sheer number of people who were mounting efforts to rescue the boys, but at the end of the day, it was a small group of middle-aged British hobbyist cave divers and one Australian doctor that made it all happen.

With no shortage of real-life footage from the search, the reconnaissance, the mission, and the above-ground contributions, not to mention the countless pieces of news footage, filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin ('Free Solo') are able to weave quite the heart-pounder with 'The Rescue' - simple in name, grand in design. But at the centre of it all is people. Just... people. There were thousands of Royal Thai Navy SEALs, U.S. military members, Thai politicians, bureaucrats and spiritual leaders were involved, yet neither their power nor sheer quantity could save those trapped. A fair chunk of 'The Rescue' is dedicated to the cave divers. These heroes sadly have to justify their hobby, their interest. They don't need to justify it to the filmmakers of course, but to the many people who ponder and openly question what type of person spends hours in the cold, the darkness and the unknown? Who could possibly find joy in that? To which they reply: it's not always about joy, but about peace and assurance, and domination over your mind and fears. As children they weren't so great at group sports or the social moments in life, but in their adulthood they found a passion - and in June 2018 they, the nay-sayers and the world discovered just how that could saves lives.

'THE RESCUE' TRAILER

This story is beyond extraordinary. I'm amazed Hollywood haven't turned it into Oscar bait yet... oh wait, Ron Howard is actually making that film as we speak. Brilliant. Can't wait. However, 'The Rescue' only scratches the surface. There was so much detail I was begging to find out, and yet I couldn't get enough of this human element they so gloriously put front and centre. The logistics of this seemingly mission impossible were mammoth - far greater and grander than we, the common folk, were ever privy too. And thankfully here there's no mention, not even a whisper of certain megalomaniac tech entrepreneurs who tried to "help". Instead we see these men - firefighters, IT consultants and financial brokers by day, cave divers by weekend - command the military and powerful leaders as they put their experience and expertise to the test and provide a skill that, quite frankly, no one else there could.

But at the centre of it all is people. Just... people.

These men received MBEs. These boys got to go to the FIFA World Cup. These parents got their sons back, and it was all done civilly and successfully in spite of language, cultural, spiritual and geographical barriers. It's amazing what can be accomplished through sheer will and people power.

Looking for more Sydney Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
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