Only the Brave could be considered somewhat of a throwback considering mainstream ensemble driven adult dramas have been pushed aside by major studios in favor of big budget blockbusters filled with superheroes to get the fanboys of all ages excited about the next installment in their favorite franchise. Even the main star of this film Josh Brolin will be appearing in two major superhero films (Deadool 2 and Avengers: Infinity War) next year, but right now the Academy Award nominee leads this film based on the real life heroes of the Granite Mountain Hotshots and shows this is a project that deserves attention and respect for the work these firefighters do risking their lives to protect our homes and communities.
Directed by Joseph Kosinski, Only the Brave is easily the best film about firefighting since Backdraft. The story follows the rise of the Hotshots as they try to build their crew from the ground up and the people who make up this scrappy team of unlikely real life heroes. Josh Brolin once again shows he’s the master of playing the gruff, strong and silent type as the wise supervisor of the crew Eric Marsh. Brolin is perfect for a role like this getting to show his tough side training new recruits, but has some dramatic moments with costar Jennifer Connelly dealing with his family life that is strained due to his dangerous and time-consuming career. Much like the TV series Rescue Me, Only the Brave shows these heroes sometimes lead complicated personal lives unable to walk away from the fires at work and at home.
Miles Teller plays one of the new recruits of the Hotshots named Brendan McDonough who struggles to find his place in the crew both mentally and physically. Teller delivers a strong performance in Only the Brave as the former addict turned new father who becomes a member of the elite crew and shows what life is like for the rookies at the bottom of the totem pole trying to juggle all the problems in theirs lives. The actor shows his raw dramatic side in the 3rd act of the film when tragedy strikes on what was supposed to be a normal day on the job for these men who walk into danger for a living.
As a viewer of Only the Brave, you invest in this crew of Hotshots which may lead many audience members to be upset with the outcome of this film. Without spoiling too much for those unfamiliar with the true story, the movie gives the audience an emotional sucker punch bringing the stark reality as to what these people and their families are facing everyday when they clock in at work. The movie is a tough watch, but it’s one people should see to understand what a real bad day of work looks like. Only the Brave is an interesting look at these unique firefighters anchored by a strong cast presenting heartfelt and gut wrenching moments turning another ordinary “Based on a True Story” movie into a film you really care about.
Overall, I give Only the Brave 3 out of 4 stars.
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