Only the Brave

Based on a true story, Only the Brave is an emotionally powerful and dramatic movie with a terrific ensemble cast that tells the heroic story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite group of wildfire firefighters based out of Prescott, Arizona who were involved in the tragic Yarnell Hill Fire in June 2013. Leading up to the events of the summer of 2013, the film follows this small group of firefighters working for the Prescott Fire Department and led by supervisor Eric Marsh, played by Academy Award-nominated actor Josh Brolin, as they try to get certified as the first municipal interagency hotshot firefighting crew. Not just filled with thrilling action scenes, it goes deeper by providing an intimate glimpse into the personal lives of those brave men who decide to fight the extremely volatile wildfires. For instance, we see the challenges faced by Eric’s wife Amanda, played by Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly, as she tries to deal with his dangerous job that strains their marriage and ability to have a family. Eric is portrayed as a good man who gives chances to troubled young men, including Miles Teller’s character Brendan McDonough who is recovering from a drug addiction and has a newborn with his ex-girlfriend. The other firefighters, including Taylor Kitsch’s character, at first do not respect McDonough, but eventually they become like brothers as they all have the same mission to save lives. This ragtag group, with the encouragement of Jeff Bridges’ character who holds a leadership position in the fire department, is able to prove they have the talent and skills to being on the front lines of wildfires throughout the United States as hotshots. The filmmaker does an excellent job of showing how firefighters contain wildfires through the use of digging trenches and setting small fires in an attempt to extinguish rapidly advancing flames primarily caused by lightning. In late June of 2013, the crew is sent on a routine mission to contain a wildfire referred to as the Yarnell Hill Fire not too far away from Prescott. However, conditions rapidly deteriorate, and the now highly respected Granite Mountain Hotshots are faced with the horrific situation of being surrounded by an out-of-control wildfire. Although there are some heartbreaking moments, the movie creates a fuller and surprisingly personal picture of those brave men who take great pride in fighting wildfires in order to protect their communities. Overall, I definitely thought it was not just a great firefighter movie but a highly evocative and inspirational film about the trials and tribulations of those who courageously serve a greater good. The filmmaker, with the help of the terrific cast, effectively balances the emotional side of the characters with harrowing and heart-stopping realistic action sequences.

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