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Movie Review – Only the Brave

Published on 17 November 2017|
2 min read

By Beanie M, Carrybeans

Based on a true story, Only the Brave chronicles the lives of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. It is the story of a group of local firefighters from Prescott, Arizona who eventually become one of the best units in the United States.

When I first heard about the film, I thought it would be another dramatised, over-the-top Hollywood production selling guts and glory, milking the ‘based on a true story’ line.

I intentionally didn’t read about the Hotshots or their lives before watching the movie as I wanted to be a fresh-eyed member of the audience taking it all in.

And man, did it all come rushing in.

Since the beginning of time, man has been intrigued by fire; it’s both a beautiful and terrifying thing. And it is on this insatiable curiosity that director Joseph Kosinki builds on as he brings us the story of these brave men.

Only the Brave revolves mainly around ‘Super’ Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin), who through his grit and rough-and-tumble leadership leads his team of municipal firefighters to become the first-ever certified Hotshots in history.

A desperate plea: please don’t research the story, or GQ article it’s based on, if you haven’t watched the film.

Watch it first, then Google away to your heart’s content.

His most controversial recruit is Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller), a young addict seeking to straighten himself out after discovering he’s become a father. Together with a merry band of sooty men, we are thrown into the throes of raging fires.

Told in a very matter-of-fact way and with a great cast, it’s beautifully apparent that what we’re seeing is the raw hearts of these men without Hollywood’s trademark shine-up.

It reveals the struggle and pain of being a firefighter, or loving one.

In Only the Brave, we see inexplicable heartache and unbridled joy. It’s a close-up view of what brotherhood really looks like.

As the story developed, I found myself suddenly feeling like I knew these men, that I had become a part of their lives. And that’s what makes this film great; the emotions and experiences are so real, scenes so similar to our everyday lives.

With a running time of 2.5 hours, it’s a tad long for today’s audiences to sit through. The pace was a little choppy; it may have been a struggle for Kosinki to do justice to all the ‘living’ these firefighters did within an acceptable time frame.

Only the Brave is about fighting fires, but not just natural ones.

And while most of us will never become Hotshots or shovel away at a frantic pace, we see somewhere, somehow, a little bit of them in us.

I left the cinema with a broken heart and a newfound appreciation for the men (and women) who serve us, putting their lives on the line for our tomorrows.

And I think that’s what makes this film great, it gives us new perspectives.

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