Only The Brave

500 Days Of Film Reviews True Life Drama, Only The Brave, Starring Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges And Jennifer Connelly

The Granite Mountain Hotshots are a unit of local Arizona firefighters who through determination, sacrifice, and the drive to protect the people they serve become one of the most elite firefighting teams in the US. 


When most of us would run, the Granite Mountain Hotshots run towards danger - forging a powerful bond that is tested with one fateful fire.

Is It Any Good?

Only The Brave has an unquestionably heroic story to tell. Well, stories to be precise. It is a film about a group of people who run towards danger - putting their lives on the line in order to protect the communities that they serve from fire. 


Based on Sean Flynn’s fascinating GQ Article "No Exit", Joseph Kosinski’s film focuses on Eric Marsh (a compelling performance from Josh Brolin) and his desire to take the Prescott Fire Department’s wildland division (employed to thin out the Ponderosa pines and chaparral near the city) and transform it into a Type 1 fire crew - hotshot status.


Meanwhile, alongside Marsh’s story, the film follows new firefighter Brendan McDonough (a powerful performance from Miles Teller) - a former addict who wants to turn his life around and provide for his newborn daughter. 


In addition, Only The Brave also introduces the Granite Mountain Hotshot team and highlights their important - sometimes overlooked - work cutting fire lines in order to stifle fires (and potential fires) in order to keep communities safe.


Initially, despite its impressive cast, Only The Brave struggles under the burden of all these true stories. Its storytelling feels cliched and its script is unconvincing. However, once the introductions and exposition are complete, the fiIm really begins to hit its stride.



Having (respectfully) explored the lives of the Granite Mountain hotshots, the incredibly tough (often miserable) work that they carry out and the heartwarming camaraderie among the team and their families, Only The Brave takes us into the heart of the Yarnell Hill fire.


Kosinski uses stunning widescreen shots to display the landscape - ensuring that we no longer see glorious forests but an expanse of potential fuel. We are left in no doubt of the dangers facing the hotshots and the ferocious unpredictability of fire.


In the face of such challenging circumstances, Only The Brave emphasises the professionalism of these remarkable fire crews. There is a wealth of knowledge and expertise at play here and their bravery and dedication in the face of real danger is awe inspiring.


Only The Brave’s final act packs a hefty emotional punch - particularly if, like me, you are unaware of the details of the story. While the hotshots (like many emergency first responders) do not view themselves as such, they are all heroes in the very best sense of the word. 


Random Observations

Have you seen Only The Brave?


If you have, what did you think of this movie? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below or via Facebook or Twitter (@500DaysOfFilm).

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Jane Douglas-Jones
Jane Douglas-Jones



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