Starring: Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Running Time: 134 mins
Only The Brave is an American film about the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a group of elite forest firefighters who risked everything to save countless lives and communities across the United States.
I always find these modern true-life dramas such great watches, because they offer up a real story that, although it may not have been widespread across the entire world, features genuine importance and emotion that undoubtedly deserves to be told on the big screen, and that’s just the case with Only The Brave. Detailing a very recent history, the film is exciting, emotional and above all fascinating, brought to life fantastically by a collection of excellent performances.
Let’s start off with the story at hand, which centres around a team of firefighters who worked tirelessly on a series of major forest fires in the USA. In similar fashion to the likes of Deepwater Horizon, the film is very much a tribute to the hard-working ethic of those who put their lives on the line to protect others and their country, and is as such a very patriotic film, although it doesn’t fly the flag quite as blatantly as many of Peter Berg’s films (Deepwater Horzion, Patriots Day, Lone Survivor).
However, the film isn’t just about a group of men going in and fighting fires. While it is a very macho and action-packed film, I’m glad to say that it doesn’t leave the emotional side of things neglected, with a particularly deep look into the personal lives of two main characters, played by Josh Brolin and Miles Teller, detailing the advantages and disadvantages of being so committed and determined in a career.
That side of the story was really interesting to see, and it gave the film the necessary dramatic depth to make it a more riveting watch overall. There are indeed moments, particularly those that centre on the relationship between Josh Brolin and his wife, played by Jennifer Connelly, where the film is actually quite aggressive and melodramatic in its delivery of the emotional side of the story, however the majority of the film’s drama is both consistent and riveting, bringing excellent depth to real-life characters.
On the flipside there are also a lot of scenes where we see the men out in the wild doing their job and fighting fires. For one, the visual effects to create the forest fires are brilliant – fantastically emphasising the scale and destructive power of the natural disasters, and reinforcing their danger when they may appear to the untrained eye nowhere near as devastating as the likes of hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis.
Also, the combination of the characters’ passion and drive in their work, something brought to life by a whole cast of brilliant and convincing performances, makes the firefighting sequences absolutely riveting and genuinely exciting watches, and with that emotional depth behind the characters too, it’s all the more heart-racing when things get quite dangerous.
However, despite being a riveting film throughout, I have a couple of small qualms with Only The Brave. For one, it doesn’t manage to bring its emotional side up to speed with the action early enough, with the film’s first act featuring unbelievably rapid character development, to the point where you can’t really stop and process how and why the characters have changed so much.
Also, I felt that the movie was lacking a little in explanation of how the firefighting actually works. Of course, it’s great to see that the movie didn’t want to bog itself down in technical jargon, but I felt that it still warranted a little more explanation on what the guys were actually doing when fighting the fires, and how it worked, because it’s not until the film’s final act that it becomes entirely clear, so I was left a little confused earlier on.
Overall, though, I was very impressed by Only The Brave. With strong (albeit occasionally melodramatic) emotion complemented by thrilling action, excellent performances and brilliant visuals, all within the context of a riveting true-life drama, this is a great watch from start to finish, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6.