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Only the Brave Movie Review

Reviewed by on Oct 19, 2017
Rating: 5 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw Only the Brave, the emotional and moving true-life story of a crew of wildland firefighters who gave all for each other and to save wilderness, people and property. Is it for you?

By: Lynn Barker

In Only the Brave, Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin) is the Supervisor “Supe” of a crew of Prescott, Arizona firefighters who “mop up” after wildland fires. Supe wants them to quality to be true Hotshots, firefighters who go right up to a raging fire and dig trenches and light backfires to contain it. When young “loser” Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller) who has problems with drug abuse and theft, applies to the crew, only Supe gives him a chance to remake his life. Can he fit in and help take the crew to Hotshot status?

Supe with wife Amanda (Jennifer Connelly) in happy timesSupe with wife Amanda (Jennifer Connelly) in happy timesCourtesy of Sony Pictures

All in a Day’s Work

Prescott, Arizona fire crew supervisor Eric Marsh packs up a ton of gear, says goodbye to his loving life Amanda and the crew assembles to mop up (douse little fires, etc. after a fire has past) while real Hotshot crews, who divert fires on the front lines, dis them as second class firefighters. In town, loser/druggie Brendan learns that a girl he dated is pregnant and Amanda takes in an abused horse. On the fire line, firefighters don’t take Supe’s advice and homes burn. Supe goes to his superior Duane Steinbrink (Jeff Bridges) asking him to push for his guys to be certified as a Hotshot crew.

Eric (Supe) tells his troubles to friend Duane (Jeff Bridges)Eric (Supe) tells his troubles to friend DuaneCourtesy of Sony Pictures

In Trouble and Trainees

Meanwhile, Brendan’s mom won’t bail him out of jail and the old girlfriend Natalie doesn’t want to accept his help with the coming baby, but when the daughter arrives, he gets out and is at the hospital. Supe interviews new guys to be trainees. He is both tough and fair. Firefighter Chris MacKenzie (Taylor Kitsch) thinks Brendan is a loser and tells him there are no openings but Supe interviews him, sees that he is trying to change his life and be a worthy new dad and hires him. Supe makes “Mac” give Brendan his new boots. The two future friends don’t get along.

Supe (Josh Brolin) interviews Brendan (Miles Teller)Supe (Josh Brolin) interviews Brendan (Miles Teller)Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Hard Training

Brendan, out of shape, has trouble keeping up as the guys run etc. He also doesn’t give the correct answers on quizzes but he keeps desperately trying to prove himself. Finally Duane gets Supe’s crew assigned to a fire where they will be evaluated as Hotshots. During the fire. Supe goes against his evaluator but makes the right choice to save property and homes. The evaluator doesn’t like him but sees that the crew is top notch and they are certified. They are now the Granite Mountain Hotshots and Brendan is starting to really fit in.

Supe (Josh Brolin) calls for helpSupe (Josh Brolin) calls for helpCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Nine Months Later

Brendan is a dad to his young daughter and Mac has moved in as his roommate. Supe and wife Amanda discuss having kids and argue over it. The crew puts out a fire on the rim of the Grand Canyon. When the guys save an enormous,100-year-old local juniper tree they are local heroes. Brendan is bitten by a rattlesnake and Mac falls for his nurse in the hospital. Supe is really hard on Brendan when the younger man asks to quit after the current fire season to be a structure firefighter because it is safer and he’s doing it for his daughter. We learn that Supe once had a substance abuse habit of his own. He tells Amanda he will quit after this season as well.

The Hotshot crew saves a giant juniper treeThe Hotshot crew saves a giant juniper treeCourtesy of Sony Pictures

The Final Fire

When a big fire threatens the Prescott area, the crew is out digging trenches and setting backfires. Supe apologizes to Brendan. He understands loyalty to family. He assigns Brendan lookout duty a distance from the fire where he’ll report on its movements. He is almost overcome when the wind changes but is rescued. The rest of the crew continues into a canyon but water drops are delayed. Their escape route is cut off. Will anyone survive?

Granite Mountain Hotshots have to be helicoptered into a fireGranite Mountain Hotshots have to be helicoptered into a fireCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Wrapping Up

Warning: This film might be too “real” and scary for some tweens or younger kids. Older tweens and teens should be emotionally affected but come out with gratitude for firefighters everywhere.

Only the Brave is an involving, emotional film depicting skill, loyalty, honor and downright amazing courage! As I write this, wildfires are still taking lives and property in California and hotshot crews are on the job, digging trenches and setting backfires to stop the advancing flames sometimes while their own homes burn. It’s exhausting physical work but thank God for these guys (and gals). The fact that the events in the film actually happened in Arizona in 2013 is heartbreaking and inspiring. The film is a worthy tribute to these true heroes.

The real-life Granite Mountain Hotshot crew in front of the JuniperThe real-life Granite Mountain Hotshot crew in front of the JuniperCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Acting, especially from Josh Brolin, Miles Teller and Taylor Kitsch is top notch and very “real”. You know guys like them and you quickly grow to care about the characters. Jennifer Connelly is also great as Amanda Marsh, Eric’s wife. She is both tough and kind-hearted as she deals with injured horses and a troubled husband.

The crew waits for pick upThe crew waits for pick upCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Director Joe Kosinski does an amazing job with real and CGI flames. One scene in which the crew sits on a high ledge as a fire burns to the edge of the Grand Canyon is amazing. You feel the heat and the wind-driven fires are both majestic and scary but the movie also has some great humor as the firefighters bond and joke around, court girlfriends and come home to their wives and children.

The Granite Mountain crew starts a final backburnThe Granite Mountain crew starts a final backburnCourtesy of Sony Pictures

I don’t see how Only the Brave could have been any better. The story is true and you will care what happens to the characters. Visually, the movie is quite stunning. We can go five stars.

Only the Brave Movie Rating: 5

Only the Brave Movie PosterOnly the Brave PosterCourtesy of Sony Pictures

You can see Only the Brave in theaters now!


Have Your Say

Do you know a firefighter? Are you grateful for their service? Do you enjoy movies about real life characters? Talk about it with a comment!