“Only the Brave” stars Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges, James Badge Dale, Taylor Kitsch, and Jennifer Connelly. Released on October 20, 2017, the film has an elite crew of firefighters battling wildfires in Arizona.
The film is directed by Joseph Kosinski, who also directed Tron: Legacy and Oblivion. Out of all of the new releases that are out this weekend, I barely managed to find the right time to see this one. With the amount of superhero movies dominating the box office this year, it didn’t take us very long to have a film that involves actual real-life heroes. Kosinski’s last two films as a director were science-fiction projects that had some healthy amounts of CGI, but having him direct a fact-based drama without any sci-fi elements is something that really caught my interest. Not to mention pretty challenging considering the fact that he’s known for working on computer graphics and CGI. While this type of transition seems pleasing, it’s actually about the execution that I will be noticing in this review.
The story is based on actual events that revolve around a group of firefighters from the Prescott Fire Department and their transition from being a hand crew to a hotshot crew. Those events lead up to the devastating Yarnell Hill Fire in June 2013 that killed 19 members of the group. One of the things that you should know about the story is that if you experience or heard about the event yourself, you’ll know exactly how it’s going to turn out in the film. Not only does the film focus on these firefighters, but also the two main characters that are a part of the group: Eric Marsh (Brolin) and new recruit Brendan McDonough (Teller). These two characters somehow have something in common that involve their families, and that’s one of the main subjects this film tackles. While it would be nice if they include some more moments involving the supporting characters and their families, I still find it to be a great example of showcasing people’s struggle between the responsibilities of their career and the responsibilities of being with their loved ones. As for the rest of the film, it did have a couple of underwhelming scenes, but everything else was simply moving, inspirational, and above all, well-executed. The cast did a great job at displaying some enjoyable characters, such as Brolin and Teller, who still manages to keep his streak going by putting out some really impressive performances in his career. It’s like he really wants you to forget about his Fantastic Four reboot fiasco. Like I said before, Kosinski has been known for creating magic with his CGI work on Tron and his futuristic visual background in Oblivion. For “Only the Brave”, he had the task of creating a different kind of magic by showcasing the heroism that the firefighters provided as well as the sacrifices they made to prevent a deadly wildfire from killing thousands of people. With his smart direction and a captivating screenplay by Ken Nolan and Eric Warren Singer, not only were the results remarkable, but the actual responsibilities of both the hand crew and the hotshot crew were handled with complete respect. Yes, it did have a few CGI elements, mostly for the wildfire sequences, but they help enhance the storytelling rather than being some sort of a distraction.
Overall, “Only the Brave” finds Joseph Kosinski in a different kind of territory in terms of his filmography, but luckily, the risk paid off due to its strong cast, its inspirational themes, and Kosinski’s impressive direction. The film can a be a tad overlong for some people and there were a couple of scenes that could’ve been portrayed better, but those were only minor issues. A very satisfying start to another weekend filled with new movies if I do say so myself. If you love inspirational fact-based films, I would say that you will love this one as well. It can get a bit emotional during the third act, but aside from that, I’m sure that you are going to enjoy this film.