‘Only The Brave’ Review Roundup: Firefighter Film Pays Tribute To 2013 Real American Heroes
Only the Brave tells the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, the heroic men who were front lines of wildfires that blazed Arizona’s Yarnell Hill in 2013. Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Taylor Kitsch and Jeff Bridges star in this powerful tribute film. The movie comes just as California is being ravaged by wildfires that have, as of this writing, taken 40 lives and 200,000 acres of land. While the film is formulaic at best, it serves its purpose of regarding first responders and fireman as true American heroes. This Joseph Kosinski directed project earned an impressive 89% on Rottentomatoes.
‘ONLY THE BRAVE’ REVIEW ROUNDUP
“Only the Brave is the latest example of an increasingly popular kind of true-life action-adventure that might be called the proxy war movie. These movies aren’t about war, but look and feel as if they are… They endure hellish situations, and sacrifice themselves for their colleagues or for larger causes. And although they won’t earn Purple Hearts or be laid to rest at Arlington, they are seen as quintessentially, emblematically American. The movie overall can feel more than a little formulaic, but as a tribute to real-life heroes, Only the Brave serves its purpose.”
–Rafer Guzmán, Newsday
“In the hands of director Joseph Kosinski, it’s informative and exciting watching these guys at work, but something else is going to have to happen on-screen and in Only the Brave, that something else is often feeble: The federal recognition subplot is accompanied by a cliched redemption story and a minor marital drama. Of course, those afflict the leads… Only the Brave might seem like a highly topical film. But it’s not one that ever gives any context for forest fires, nor even manages to fully explain the difficult choices the real Eric Marsh faced. It’s a movie intent on telling us the hotshots were heroes, without sufficiently dramatizing either their professional decisions or their private lives.”
–Kate Taylor, The Globe and Mail
“A sort of Top Gun for firefighters ensues as the Granite Mountain crew fights for certification, bonds with each other at barbecues and participates in myriad hazing rituals. Jeff Bridges, taking another step toward becoming an actual cowboy, plays a fire chief; Jennifer Connelly is Marsh’s wife, representing all the women the boys don’t understand as well as they do a big blaze. Director Joseph Kosinski puts the brotherhood of the unit front and center, emphasizing the bonds forged over sweat and soot. He directs with a sense of duty to honor the crew, and he does the job.”
–Andrew Graham, The Detroit News
“Only the Brave is at its best at two extremes: in the middle of the action, as the firefighters do things like improbably light fires to contain bigger fires; and at home in the midst of banter between Eric and his wife Amanda (Jennifer Connelly, who should really be in more movies), a working rancher who loves her husband and fears, rightly, for his safety. The screenplay, by GQ journalist Sean Flynn, frequently assumes the average viewer is more conversant in firefighter lingo than I’d imagine most are, and its broad-strokes portrayal of Donut’s being good-naturedly hazed by his peers is less than compelling. But what goes down in Yarnell, and Kosinski’s respectful portrayal of it, is undeniably devastating — and a well-deserved salute to a group of low-key heroes.”
–Sara Stewart, New York Post
The film comes out today, Oct. 20. See the trailer below.