Arts & Culture

Review: ‘Only the Brave’ captures the courage in all of us


Directed by Joseph Kosinski, ” Only the Brave,” is an action drama that depicts the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a group of elite firefighters who protected a small Arizona town from wildfires. Having lost their lives on the job in June of 2013, only a film like this can honor the lives of true American heroes. While the film raises awareness about the growing issue of wildfires, it also features characters with real issues the audience can relate to.

Led by an ensemble cast, this is the most intense and genuine film that touches on redemption, humanity and loyalty. Josh Brolin leads the cast as Eric Marsh, the supervisor of the Hotshots. He struggles to be the “mentor” to these men while facing the demons of his own life. Eric’s wife, Amanda, played by Jennifer Connelly, only adds to the anxiety of her husband’s job by pushing him into having a child. This relationship serves as the humanizing view of the typical arguments that can grow from a normal marriage. Brolin’s character becomes a tortured hero who tries to save the day but has to balance the priorities of his own life. This is an issue that seems to be common in couples today.

The film also touches on substance addiction when we are introduced to young pothead Brendan McDonough, played by Miles Teller, who is the rookie and sole survivor of the Granite Mountain Firefighters. We first see him as the screwup stoner whose pregnant girlfriend left him because of his indignance and bad choices. He sees the Hotshots as a way to prove his worthiness as a father and responsible human being. Alongside Brolin, Teller brings a sensational performance to the film as the struggling character who is looking to make something of himself. This is his best work since “Whiplash.” Jeff Bridges also stars in the film as the “father figure” to the Hotshots. There is a lot of teacher and student chemistry among the various characters throughout the movie.

“Only the Brave” is an inspirational story that uses strong performances to make a memorable and honorable salute to heroes who actually risked their lives for their community. Just before the end credits, the movie features a montage of the real life Granite Mountain Hotshots before they died. Kosinski, after having talked to the families of the fallen men, tried to make the portrayals and the storyline as accurate as possible. This isn’t just any biographical drama; it successfully examines themes of family, friendship, love and sacrifice. We look at the messy but personal lives of a group of men who drink beer, make jokes and fight fires. It really captures the strength and courage that lies inside all of us. It’s the perfect film to watch with your buddies over a nice cold beverage and a hunger for suspense.

This article first appeared in the Friday, November 3, 2017, Edition of The Echo.