Only the Brave is based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots – the first ever municipal fire crew to be certified as Hotshots, which is the name given to the brave firefighters that tackle wildfires on the ground. It’s another true story I wasn’t aware of, and as with many of the others that have had movies made of them recently, it is just as deserving to be told. My appreciation of the movie, in particular how it all ended, was certainly improved based on the fact that I had no prior knowledge of the story.
Although, we do get to see a number of wildfires throughout the movie and get to fully appreciate the scale and danger that they present to both firefighters and residents in the path of destruction, Only the Brave never descends into an over-the-top disaster blockbuster. Instead, the movies main focus is often on the team of firefighter themselves, their family lives, and how they juggle all of that along with such an intensely demanding work life. At times though, this side of the movie doesn’t work so well as we constantly meander through some of the less interesting parts of the lives of the crew, and I felt the whole movie could have benefited by shaving about 30 minutes from its run time. There’s a great, all-star cast to help things along though – Josh Brolin is supervisor Eric Marsh, Miles Teller one of his rookies, and that’s just the start of it. Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Connelly, and Andie MacDowell all feature in strong supporting roles.
Despite its slow start and extended run time, I definitely found Only the Brave an enjoyable and emotional story.