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'Thirteen Lives' Ending Explained: From giving anesthesia to creating a weir, here's how rescuers saved football team

Things were getting really bleak for the rescuers and they had a pretty different plan to take the football team out
Viggo Mortensen (Richard Stanton) and Colin Farrell (John Volanthen) in 'Thirteen Lives' (MGM/Amazon)
Viggo Mortensen (Richard Stanton) and Colin Farrell (John Volanthen) in 'Thirteen Lives' (MGM/Amazon)

In 2018, experts and volunteers from across the globe landed at Thailand’s Tham Luang Nang Non-cave and did everything to save twelve young boys and their football coach. Due to continuous rains and the rise in water levels inside the cave, the aforementioned people were trapped inside the cave and waited for people to rescue them. The Thai authorities and military did everything to get them out, but they were not able to reach that point because of the increasing water level.

However, two cave divers from Britain, John Volanthen (Colin Farrell) and Richard Stanton (Viggo Mortensen) went inside and after two days of trying, finally located the group. But it was not easy to take them outside because they were just two and they had to take out thirteen people. So, they came out with their videos and told everyone that they are still alive. The next day, members from the Thai team went inside and reached the group. However, they used too much of oxygen and it was impossible for them to reach the cave entrance. So, three of them stay with the group while one person reaches the entrance.


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Luckily, the rain has stopped, but the water level is still high and they don’t have any idea how to take 13 people out. So, what would they do? and how do they take them out? Let’s take a look.

Joel Edgerton, Colin Farrell, and Viggo Mortensen in 'Thirteen Lives' (MGM/Amazon)
Joel Edgerton, Colin Farrell, and Viggo Mortensen in 'Thirteen Lives' (MGM/Amazon)

‘Thirteen Lives’ Ending Explained: How did the team rescue the group?

After things a lot, Stanton and Volanthen contacted some of their fellow colleagues and brought them to Thailand. Two of them were experienced divers while one of them is a doctor who is a renowned anesthetist. So, they plan to administer the anesthetic ketamine to the boys before the journey, rendering them unconscious, to prevent them from panicking on the journey and risking the lives of their rescuers. They will bring them out while they will be unconscious and save their lives. But Harris makes it clear that there can casualties.  The Thai authorities share the plan with the minister and he gives them a nod to do this because this is the only they could have save them.

So, the plan is divided into three parts and every day they will rescue 4 people from the cave. First, three people will reach the group and Harris will administer each of them the drug. The other person will take the boy with them to Chamber 3 where another member of the rescue team will be waiting for him and help him if he needs any assistance. As soon as the first person will leave, the man standing in Chamber 3 will reach the group and take out one more guy. They will keep on doing it back and forth till the time every person has been rescued.

A still from 'Thirteen Lives' (MGM/Amazon)
A still from 'Thirteen Lives' (MGM/Amazon)

The first two days didn’t pose many problems and they were able to take 8 people out. However, the second night of the rescue operation saw rain returning to that region and it was heavier this time around. The water level went high and Stanton said that if it’s too dangerous, he won’t go inside. As they reach the cave, Stanton is the first one to say that they should go inside and help the kids. However, the plan is to take everyone out today, including the members of the Thai rescue team.

The operation was running smooth, but it hit a speed bump where the ketamine’s effect started to fade away and the boy was this close to being conscious. In a panic, Jason, the rescuer, dropped the extra syringes of ketamine and started finding them. Luckily, he found them in time and gave the boy some extra dosage. When they reached the entrance, the young boy was still breathing. Complications started beginning with the second boy as well because whenever Volanthen put him inside the water, his breathing would go away. After a lot of trying, they finally got through and John was able to bring him out.

However, the biggest problem came when Chris started the swim and because of hitting rocks along the way, he lost hold of the cable and couldn’t follow it. So, he was left stranded in Chamber 3. Fortunately, Stanton reached there with the coach and told him to sit tight because Harris is coming and he’ll take a look at the kid. Chris looked really nervous. When Chris arrived, he checked the kid and said that he is alright. Chris, Harris, and the last remaining boy begin their journey and after getting injured a few times they reach the entrance. Every member of the lost group was rescued.

Colin Farrell, Joel Edgerton, and Viggo Mortensen in 'Thirteen Lives' (MGM/Amazon)
Colin Farrell, Joel Edgerton, and Viggo Mortensen in 'Thirteen Lives' (MGM/Amazon)

However, three members of the Thai rescue team were still inside and trying to come out. At that exact time, the rain started becoming heavier and damaging the rocks. When all hopes were lost, all three rescuers came out alive and the operation stopped.

Apart from the divers, a groundwater specialist named Thanet Natisri turned out to be instrumental in the mission as he worked on the outside and stopped the water from getting into the cave. A total of 5000 from 17 different countries came to help the young boys and showed why humanity triumphs over everything.