Ron Howard’s new film “Thirteen Lives” has just been released in limited release in theaters ahead of its streaming release date on Amazon Prime Video on August 5. The real story tells the heartbreaking details of the 2018 rescue operation to rescue a youth football team stuck in a cave in Thailand.
“Thirteen Lives,” with an ensemble cast that includes Viggo Mortensen and Colin Farrell, is Howard’s first film after the much–criticized “Rustic Elegy.” A tense epic about survival can join the company of these excellent films, which turned out to be some of the best rescue/survival films.
The Lone Survivor (2013)
Based on a non-fiction book co–authored with a real character, Lone Survivor is an epic survival film set during the war in Afghanistan. Producer and star Mark Wahlberg played Marcus Luttrell, a former Navy seal who survived a brutal fight with the Taliban during the failed Red Wings military operation.
“Lone Survivor” is based not only on Wahlberg’s central game, but also on disturbing battle scenes and excellent Oscar-nominated sound effects that create a sense of realism throughout the film. As in “Thirteen Lives,” this movie relies heavily on action to keep up the tension.
Into the Wild (2007)
Sean Penn moved behind the camera to bring the story of Christopher McCandless to life, using Jon Krakauer’s bestseller as source material. “In the Wild” featured an ensemble cast from Hal Holbrook and Catherine Keener to Kristen Stewart to Twilight. However, the success of the film depends on the main role of Emil Hirsch.
McCandless, who abandoned his former rich upbringing and went on a trip to Alaska, received a life experience that was ideal for visual, cinematic storytelling. “In the Wild” contains deep themes about the beauty, vastness and danger of nature. Fans of this film will probably find parallel themes in “Thirteen Lives”.
United 93 (2006)
Another heartbreaking real—life story that hit the big screen is Paul Greengrass’ thrilling “United 93,” about the brave real passengers and flight crew who fought back against hijackers during the September 11 attacks.
Greengrass shot his film in many ways as a documentary, which made the tension and realism even more palpable. The film was released shortly after the actual terrorist attacks, and it may be difficult for some to watch it, but ultimately, United 93 serves as a bold tribute to the heroes of its history.
The Impossible (2012)
The epic disaster film “The Impossible” tells the real story of a family vacationing in Thailand who were separated and eventually reunited after the 2004 tsunami. The film received critical acclaim and earned Naomi Watts an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
One of the strongest scenes in “The Impossible” is the image of the arrival of the tsunami itself, which was filmed in a water tank to reflect real events. These disturbing episodes, combined with the emotional resonance of the performances of Watts and the then unknown Tom Holland, make “The Impossible” one of the most memorable epic works about survival.
Perhaps one of Tom Hanks’ most iconic roles was playing Chuck Noland in Robert Zemeckis’ The Outcast, a performance that earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Hanks is one of the few actors in the film playing a man stranded on an island after a plane crash.
“Rogue” reunited Hanks and Zemeckis, who had previously worked together on “Forrest Gump.” This film was a commercial success and became the third highest-grossing film of 2000 according to Box Office Mojo. “Thirteen Lives” won’t achieve the same success, since its distribution in theaters will be limited, but if “Rogue” serves as any indication, it’s that viewers are looking for well-made films about survival.
127 hours (2010)
Another film starring mostly one actor is “127 Hours” directed by Danny Boyle in 2010, a biographical account of the shocking true story of Aron Ralston. In the film, James Franco portrays Ralston, who goes on an unsuccessful hiking expedition when he falls and his right hand gets stuck in a boulder.
“127 Hours” is about the next five days, and while Danny Boyle’s real-life travel film is unsettling and ruthless in describing what Ralston went through, Franco shines in the film, as does Boyle’s direction. 127 Hours explores what people are willing to do to survive, and its success demonstrates that films of this type will always find an audience.
Captain Phillips (2013)
Based on Richard Phillips’ account of his own merchant marine experience, Captain Phillips charmed the public with his unwavering view of the hijacking of an American cargo ship near Somalia. The film received six Academy Award nominations, including a nomination for Best Film.