Large Scale Melodrama: Our Review of ‘Only The Brave’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - October 20, 2017
Large Scale Melodrama: Our Review of ‘Only The Brave’

It takes a special kind of individual to step into the path of incoming danger, and to support those who do.

Based on a true story; Only The Brave is a heart wrenching tale of heroism that deserved to be told and is technically sound but won’t resonate beyond anything thematically as the film and the performances do wear out some familiar thematic beats in a story of this nature.

Based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, Only The Brave is the heroic story of one unit of local firefighters that through hope, determination, sacrifice, and the drive to protect families, communities, and our country become one of the most elite firefighting teams in the country. As most of us run from danger, they run toward it; they watch over our lives, our homes, everything we hold dear, as they forge a unique brotherhood that comes into focus with one fateful fire.

Ultimately Only The Brave is one of those films that really is more about the journey then it is about the destination as it hits all the right emotional buttons anchored by some solid leading performances.

Director Joseph Kosinski definitely leans into some unexplored territory as this is easily the most emotionally poignant film that he has ever worked on to date but he still manages to sprinkle in some effective moments of spectacle to make for a nice blend of the two.  Based on a GQ article by Sean Flynn called “No Exit” the script from Ken Nolan and Eric Warren Singer manages to color within the lines and tell a story about a group of selfless hard working heroes who were simply just amazing human beings.  Kosinski taps into this rather effectively for the most part as we see these men who run into the fire without water as truly unique individuals but still very flawed ones much like anyone we know in our day to day lives.  In concert with the genuine humanity on display, Kosinski isn’t afraid to shoot the country side where so many of these wild fires happen with stunning beauty and precision, right before lapping it all in CGI flames that feel real and lick the screen right alongside these characters.

Josh Brolin is seemingly settling into a comfortable mold as the likeable everyman/leading man.  As Eric Marsh, the leader of the Granite Mountain Hotshots his very existence is about trying to make life better for every single man in his unit that he has built into a family of his very own.  While Miles Teller was a little too understated for our liking as young recruit Brendan McDonough he gets propped up with solid turns from Canada’s own Taylor Kitsch as a brash hotshot looking for love and the consistently under rated James Badge Dale who serves as right hand man to Josh Brolin and gives any project his involved with more credibility then people give him credit for.  The likes of Jeff Bridges (who is a little wasted here), Jennifer Connelly, Andie McDowell & Geoff Stults round out the balance of the ensemble well enough, the movie really does begin and end with Brolin and his work is more than enough at the end of the day to make this a worthwhile experience.

It’s a rare thing to see a film like Only The Brave which at its core is a tribute and love letter to first responders of all kinds across the globe manage to not get to maudlin or clunky as it spools out a story for its audiences.  This film is a pretty great marriage of heartfelt storytelling and grand scale spectacle.

This post was written by

David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.