Finding a way to honor a person's memory can be difficult to do at times because you want that authenticity of that person to shine through. The new film, “Only the Brave,” makes a valiant effort to tell the story of the firefighters that were apart of the Granite Mountain Hotshots team who lost their lives honestly and respectfully.
"Only the Brave" centers on the story of 20 firefighters that made up the Granite Mountain Hotshot team. It gives the audience a look into their world to see who they were and what dreams they had. By providing this perspective, it allows for their story become real and tangible once again, assuring it will not be forgotten.
The majority of the film is about the friendships that had been forged together through countless emergency calls working together side by side. A scene that shows this relationship is how Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller) is accepted into the department even though he has a past that has been marked with poor decisions. He atones for his past deeds and starts to build a life for himself by taking responsibility with the help of the guys at the station.
Only the Brave shows the bond the group had with the community they served and what that service meant to them. The warmth expressed in these moments has a very genuine and heartfelt feel to it, which is refreshing to see. In similar films that relationship is lost and makes the picture feel lopsided and out of focus.
The film shows struggles the team faced to earn their rating and the respect. They are first a type-two crew who works to establish fire lines and clear brush around an active wildfire. Then they are certified as a hotshot crew who could engage the fire directly.
The Yarnell Hill wildfire near Yarnell, Arizona that took the lives of 19 of the 20 members on June 30, 2013, is a small portion of the story.
However, this little piece is done right. It does not try to add information to the events that took place but tells how they unfolded.
During these moments it can be painful to watch and stirs a lot of emotion watching the events unfold on the screen before you.
The casting in this film adds to the intense, well-edited story. Teller does a remarkable job bringing McDonough’s story into focus on the screen and the difficulties that he faced before and after the Yarnell Hill wildfire. The emotion he shares with the audience at times is very poignant. It is good to see Teller take on roles that have more substance to them.
Hopefully, he will continue that trend in the future.
I give "Only the Brave" four out of five mustaches.
This film is rated PG-13 for thematic content, some sexual references, language, and drug material. It runs 133 minutes.