Directed by John Kosinski
Based on the GQ article No Exit by Sean Flynn, “Only The Brave” is a magnetizing biographical drama that pays a deserved tribute to 19 brave firemen, members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, who died after getting trapped in Arizona’s devastating Yarnell Hill Fire in 2013.
Director Joseph Kosinski (“Tron: Legacy”; “Oblivion”) recreates the occurrence with dramatic punch, but first, he puts us in touch with the mundane lives of the characters. The good performances by Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, and Jennifer Connelly make easier for him to address this mild phase of the drama.
The story, co-written by Ken Nolan and Eric Warren Singer, has Eric 'Supe' Marsh (Brolin) and Brendan ‘Donut’ McDonough (Teller) at the center. The former is the stout-hearted superintendent of Crew 7, a respected unit of firemen that operates behind the first line, while the latter is a young single father who asks the firefighters the opportunity that will allow him to change his ignoble situation. Having a record and trying hard to leave a complicated drug addiction problem behind, he is decided in leading a decent life and to dedicate himself, body and soul, to his new job.
Marsh is in permanent contact with his longtime friend and part-time country singer Duane Steinbrink (Jeff Bridges), who also happens to be the woodland division chief. He is the key to Crew 7’s certification as type 1, known as ‘hotshots’, which will make possible for Marsh to make important decisions while combating fires in the frontline. Whereas everything goes smoothly in this regard, at home, he’s having a hard time with his wife, Amanda (Connelly), a horse trainer who demands more time of his busy life to herself. Both are also former addicts who were saved by the love they feel for each other and the serious dedication to their professions. As Duane’s wife, Marvel (a cameo role for Andy McDowell), says in the film: ‘it’s not easy sharing your man with the fire’.
Even if too long, the visual power of a ravaging fire engulfing well-intentioned men in the performance of their duties is tragic and terrifying. “Only the Brave” is a touching tribute to real-life heroes and its excruciating conclusion stubbornly remains in our heads for a long time after the final credits roll.