The Rescue – Toronto 2021

The Rescue. Courtesy of TIFF.

Three years winning the Oscar for Free Solo, filmmakers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin return to Toronto with The Rescue.

Once again, the filmmakers find a way to keep us on the edge of our seats. It’s a very different film from their Oscar winner in that this film focuses on the Northern Thailand cave rescue mission in 2018. The world was glued to the news as twelve boys and their coach were stuck inside this flooded cave. What we see in the film is never-before-seen footage along with exclusive interviews. This was a mission that brought together both the Royal Thai Navy SEALs and US Special Forces in planning a rescue mission. We also learn a thing or two along the way especially when it comes to cave diving and the risks that come with it.

The cave usually closes in July because it frequently floods. However, the soccer team found themselves trapped in June because of earlier than usual flooding. Reminder: there is a climate crisis and we cannot ignore it. This is another story for another day but I digress. Anyway, E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin get to the harder questions at hand. What is our responsibility when this sort of event happens? Do have to attempt to save a life–or lives–even if it puts our own life at risk? These are not easy questions to answer but from where I come from, saving the life of another is one of the most important mitzvot there is. And then there’s the question of what drives these cave divers to risk their lives by cave diving.

Watching The Rescue on the small screen doesn’t have the same intensity that Free Solo did on an IMAX screen. When we talk about the theatrical experience, this is exactly what we’re talking about. This is not to say that The Rescue is a bad film because it isn’t but I feel I would have had a better experience watching it on the big screen. Even though a majority of viewers will end up watching once the film reaches home video, this is the type of film that’s just made for the big screen.

On the technical side of things, this isn’t an easy film to make during the pandemic. That being said, the underwater cinematography is rather impressive especially the UK reenactments. There’s so much to take in and digest about the footage. Meanwhile, Daniel Pemberton delivers impressive work as usual. He’s here again with another original song, “Believe” performed by Aloe Blacc during the end credits. I fully expect that the song will contend for an Oscar.

Something to take away from The Rescue is what happens when people come together to do the right thing even if it is against all odds. It’s better than, you know, being selfish and not doing the right thing–you know who you are.

DIRECTORS: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi & Jimmy Chin
FEATURING: Dr. Bhak Loharjun, “Amp” Bangngoen, Thanet Natisri, Rick Stanton, John Volanthen, Dr. Richard “Harry” Harris, Captain Mitch Torrel

The Rescue holds its international premiere during the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival in the TIFF Docs program. National Geographic Documentary Films will release the film on October 8, 2021.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.