Only the Brave tells the tragic true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, 19 firefighters that devoted their lives to saving people from the horror of forest fires.
The film is directed by Joseph Kosinski, who was behind Tron Legacy, and let’s face it, this film could not be farther away from that production if it tried. It might be worth noting that Kosinski is also associated with the new Twilight Zone reboot, could be interesting,
The first thing to note here, is this is a true story. The Yarnell Hill Fire in Yarnell Arizona, is the 3rd deadliest recorded wild fire in American history, and occurred in 2013. It started with a lightning strike, and was exasperated by dry land, high temperatures and strong winds that caused the fire to spread and move with devastating effect.
Now the film itself tracks the progress of the group through the eyes of Miles Teller, playing Brendan McDonough, who joins the team in an attempt to quit his life of drugs, and redundancy after finding out he is going to be a father. We see things pretty much through his eyes. He joins as a new recruit, and we follow him as his new workmates become family, giving his life purpose and a sense of belonging.
Josh Brolin plays team superintendent Eric Marsh. He takes the new boy under his wing, giving him a chance when others wouldn’t. The sense of community and belonging plays a vital part in the film. There are many scenes of the team of fire fighters bonding and becoming closer, despite their initial reluctance to accept Teller as part of the team.
The job is demanding and dangerous, and the toll is felt by family and friends of all the members of the squad. We see the struggles of a work, life balance here at the highest level, and this clash is the catalyst for most of the home spun drama.
The fire sequences are filmed well, I imagine many of the sequences must have required a mix of CGI and practical effects, and as you approach the final reel, you begin to understand just how deadly and dangerous these type of brush fires can be.
There are plenty of scenes in the first two reels that reminded me of classic buddy movies such as Top Gun, it has a sort of retro feel to it, but at the heart of the production is the honoring of these real life heroes, and their families, who make sacrifices that we may never understand.