Review: Behind the heavy testosterone-laden drama, Only the Brave highlights true act of heroism in the most respectful way. It might look like a show-off of masculinity, but who knows that it’s never really about muscles. It’s the story of hearts.
Director Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy, Oblivion) assembles a combination of veteran actors and rising ones, ranging from Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin and Jennifer Connelly to Miles Teller and Taylor Kitsch, in telling a real story of Granite Mountain Hotshots, sub-group of Prescott Fire Department. Only the Brave covers how the group rose into prominence, saved thousands of acres from forest fire, and culminated the devastating event of Yarnell Hill fire.
Story is approached from particular point of view—from Brolin’s Eric Marsh, the squad leader, and occasionally from Teller’s Brendan McDonough, a troubled rookie in the squad. Brolin’s character is the pinnacle of movie masculinity; while Teller’s McDonough (they also called the character McDonut) is Teller’s typical rebel/underdog character. Marsh, behind his commitment to work, has a tense relationship with his wife (Jennifer Connelly) despite their seemingly happy marriage. Meanwhile, McDonough, a former junkie, feels the urge to change to be a better man for his daughter. Despite prompt difference between them, Only the Brave depicts them as two men with lots of similarities, which sometimes juxtapose with each other. There’s where Ken Nolan and Eric Warren Singer’s script lays the foundation, where family plays a big part for the ‘patriots.’
Marsh and McDonough are only two of the pack of Granite Mountain’s regular guys. There’s nothing superficial, no glorification, nor over-dramatization of those ‘patriots.’ The film depicts them as mere humans, with their own problem, who enthusiastically deal with risk because they think it’s the job they do best. We learn how these blue-collar workers are attached to their job. Therefore, when the climactic events happen, we can sympathize towards those characters deeply.
Technical terms and procedure to “fight fire with fire” has never been explicitly explained in the film, although it might be an intriguing feature. Only the Brave only focuses on how people who would never call themselves ‘hero’ heroically saves the town and be real heroes no matter the risk. The ensemble of casts also contributes in lending their charisma to cement the heroic act in a respectful way.
Neither the title nor the poster might suggest that it’s that kind of powerful film, but Only the Brave indeed is that powerful film, which pays tribute to the act of heroism without glorifying. It might feel a little too stretched and exhausting, but the final 30 minutes are both breathtaking and devastating.
Only the Brave (2017)
Drama, Biography Directed by: Joseph Kosinski Written by: Eric Warren Singer, Ken Nolan based on an article by Sean Flynn Starred by: Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges Runtime: 133 mins Rated PG-13