True stories are a staple of cinema, when done right they are fascinating tales that draw us in more so than typical storytelling because we all long to hear each other’s stories and experiences. For better or worse sharing experiences is a distinctly human trait, and one that movies harness well. A new film out now, Only the Brave, is a truly incredible story and film.
Based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, Josh Brolin plays Eric Marsh of the Prescott, Arizona Fire Department. With forest fires being a regular problem around Prescott Marsha and his team are tired of sitting on the sidelines when the Type 1 or ‘Hotshot’ front line forest firefighting crews face the blazes head on. So Marsh gets his team certified and becomes the first municipal Hotshot team in the country, taking on new recruits along the way including Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller), a troubled young man searching for purpose. In 2013, the notorious Yarnell Hill Fire will test all of the team members and force them to do everything in their power to stop one of the most intense forest fires ever.
Only the Brave is a wonderfully constructed movie that doesn’t take the easy route and just jump into the action elements of fighting forest fires. Instead it really takes its time to let the viewer get to know the men of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, especially Brolin’s Marsh and Teller’s McDonough. Both men have some pretty intense issues in their lives that they are struggling to overcome but the screenplay by Sean Flynn, Ken Nolan and Eric Warren Singer never stoops to sentimental or overplayed themes or emotional queues. They keep it authentic and true to the natures of the real men, honoring them properly instead of hyping them up to larger than life caricatures. When the film does get to the action-packed sequences of firefighting director Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion, Tron Legacy) does a great job of keeping things realistic, showing the truly terrifying nature of what these men do for a living and the violence nature can conjure up. Only the Brave really tells the story right from beginning to end and is an amazing and inspirational story of people who literally put their lives on the line for the safety of others. Highly recommended.