Only The Brave

Fire is scary as hell and I think societally we’ve all agreed that it’s better not to die in or around one. But some people make their livings alongside it. Are they the brave ones? Sure, some of them. But in my experience, not exclusively. Like any profession, there are some who are called to it and others who are there for the paycheque and while that’s inevitable, it’s also not ideal if you’re running into a life-threatening situation and counting on that guy to not fuck your shit up.

Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin) has put together a crew of hot shots, which is apparently what they call the elite firemen who battle dangerous, raging forest fires. I have not used the word fireman since I was 4, but there’s no other kind in this movie. There are only 3 kinds of careers for women in this movie: 1. wife 2. baby mama 3. porn star.

As the Granite Mountain Hotshots are finally about to qualify, they swell their ranks to take on several rookies, including Brendan (Miles Teller), who’s got some issues, and not just that he calls his mother dude, but I’d say that’s chief among them. He’s a classic fuckup but he’s also ripe for a father figure, so this career path is only half as stupid as it seems.

Only The Brave is based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots as they took on the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire. It has one of the highest mustache ratios you’ve seen on screen this century, and the movie has annoying habit of sounding like it’s being written in Michael Bay slogans (it’s based on a GQ article, so, you know). Miles Teller is sporting a blond look and someone either bleached his eyebrows or shaved the damn things off so it looks like he’s already lost them in a fire, which sort of takes the fun of forest fires if you know what I mean. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty to boil your blood: just boys being boys, by which I mean bros being dumbasses, trying to out-testosterone each other with feats of extreme stupidity.

It’s not all bad; Josh Brolin and Jeff Bridges are solid and dependable, and sometimes the story is affecting in a sparse kind of way. But it lost me during its rah-rah-heroes shit and a lot of the time I just felt pretty eye-rolly about it.

7 thoughts on “Only The Brave

  1. Paul. Writer and Filmmaker

    I actually enjoyed this film as it really got you feeling positive and in awe of what fire fighters do on a daily basis. But, I agree that the writing and characters were not complex enough. What should have been a very emotional ending was lost slightly.

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  2. Rosaliene Bacchus

    Our firefighters here in Southern California are true heroes. Earlier this week in Los Angeles, on an already hot day with temperatures of over 90 degrees, a female firefighter collapsed from the intense heat while battling a brush fire on a steep slope in an upscale neighborhood.
    I’ve recently read a report that firefighters are suffering from increasing rates of PTSD and suicide. I’d hate to watch a movie that depicts our male firefighters as “bros being dumbasses, trying to out-testosterone each other with feats of extreme stupidity.”

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  3. Invisibly Me

    I actually quite like this, perhaps partly as I had no real idea of what happened when these guys go out risking their lives attempting to put out the fires. It felt like a bit of a reality check, giving me a better insight into something that’s fucking horrific. I also have a soft spot for Teller, and as you say, Brolin is a stable force in this flick, too. x

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