Only the Brave tells the story of real-life firefighters the Yarnell Valley Hot Shots; an elite firefighting crew who work on the front line of bushfires, battling the blaze directly.
The film is directed by Joseph Kosinski, who brought us Tron: Legacy (2010) and Oblivion (2013) starring Tom Cruise. The cast is stacked with an ensemble of A-list actors such as Josh Brolin, Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller and Jeff Bridges.
When you see a bushfire you realise just how powerless we are when faced with fire, yet still there are people who fight to stop these burning infernos. Getting an inside look into how exactly that’s done is extremely interesting, and it’s also surprising to see how practical the firefighter’s methods are. Axes, chainsaws, spades and fire are some of the tools that they use. Using nothing but manpower and sheer will, these men do the work of a machine with only a small crew. Only the Brave not only nailed showing their techniques, but it also painted a denser picture of what life is like for these men, and how their career choice can affect their families and loved ones.
While the cinematography and the performances were great, what the film did best was capturing the comradery between the men in the crew. You really grow to love them, and the boisterous dialogue between the men seemed very natural and easy to believe that these men were brothers; a bond that can only be established from doing the type of work that they do, which creates a tight-knit community that could really be felt through the film’s delivery. Ultimately, you realise these are just ordinary guys who choose to do an extremely dangerous job; the closest thing we have to a real-life Avengers team.
The movie also features a great comedic tone, balanced nicely with more serious dramatic moments. Credit to the writing and the performances, as this ensemble cast really brought it. Josh Brolin seemed so natural in this role, partly because he had spent time as a volunteer firefighter when he was younger. Jeff Bridges and Miles Teller were both solid as per usual, however my favourite performance came from Jenifer Connolly, doing a great job of showing the struggle of being married to a firefighter. The subtleties in her performance really helped convey the complexity of her situation.
Visually, the movie was stunning and every frame well-composed. The fire was shot beautifully and the movie did a great job at simultaneously showing the beauty and the danger of fire. If you ever wanted to know what it’s like for these men on the job, I think this movie puts you as close as you can get to the real thing, both visually and emotionally.
Only the Brave was entertaining and funny, but most of all the movie did a great job at paying homage to the Yarnell Valley Hot Shots crew. They truly are heroes and director Joseph Kosinski does the crew proud. The cast did a great job at giving honest performances which really enhanced the well-written dialogue. If you want an entertaining ride with some real character depth, then go check out Only the Brave, which may possibly be one of the best firefighting movies of all time.
Ken Nolan and Eric Singer wrote the screenplay based on a GQ artcle titled “No Exit”.