For those of us who have lived in the shadow of the sun where rainfall is rare and where lightning seeds destruction in the arid wilderness, we know that when nature turns its fury toward our homes and livelihoods that there are individuals who will face the flames on its own ground. These courageous men and women can spend weeks, months away from family and home; working in some of the most inhospitable conditions ever in order to spare us from calamity.
They are known as Hotshots. And in summer of 2013 we as a nation lost 19 of some of the finest to ever hold that title.
“Only the Brave” tells the story of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew as they rise to the rank of an elite Type 1 crew all the way through the tragic events that took place outside of Yarnell. Supported by an all-star cast including the likes of Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Connelly every performance in this film is incredibly strong and gives the movie an authenticity which helps us identify with the characters. And while the crux of the story is told between Hotshot Superintendent Eric Marsh (Brolin) and rookie firefighter Brenden McDonough (Teller) each member of the supporting cast puts enough weight behind their performances to make their characters feel like real people. And in fact, it’s the camaraderie between the firefighters which ultimately will stay with the viewer after the credits roll.
Visually the cinematography is near perfect for almost every scene as the visuals compliment the feelings of dread or sorrow as they occur throughout the film.
As for the authenticity as far as the actual events go in the formation of Granite Mountain and how true the on-screen characters are to their real-life counterparts it’s difficult to say. There are a few moments here and there that feel a little overdone for the sake of punching up the drama, however a majority of the dialogue and events feel true enough without feeling too processed by Hollywood.
Ultimately, “Only the Brave” is an unflinching look into the world of wildland firefighting both at home and in the field as well as a powerful tribute to the men lost four years ago.
RIP Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew, June 30, 2013.
4 out of 4 miners.