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In 2007 Prescott, Arizona, Eric Marsh of the Prescott Fire Department is frustrated fighting forest fires when the Type 1 or "Hotshot" front line forest fire fighting crews from afar overrule his operational suggestions to his area's sorrow. To change that, Marsh gets approval from the Mayor to attempt to organize an unprecedented certified municipal-based Hotshot crew for Prescott. To that end, Marsh needs new recruits, which includes the young wastrel, Brendan McDonough, to undergo the rigorous training and qualification testing for the most dangerous of fire fighting duty. Along the way, the new team meets the challenge and the hailed Granite Mountain Hotshots are born. In doing so, all the men, especially McDonough, are changed as new experience and maturity is achieved in fire-forged camaraderie. All this is put to the test in 2013 with the notorious Yarnell Hill Fire that will demand efforts and sacrifices no one can ignore. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Wild fire disaster movie packs an emotional wallop
"Only the Brave" (2017 release; 133 min.) brings the story if the Granite Mountain Hot Shots fire squad. As the movie opens, "Based on True Events" we are reminded, we get to know Eric Marsh and his gang, as they are trying to get certified as Hot Shots, allowing them to combat wild fires in the front line. We also get to know Brendan, a doped-out loser whose girlfriend just got pregnant. Realizing he needs to turn his life around, Brendan applies to join the fire squad and for reasons unknown until much later in the movie, Eric decides to give Brendan a shot. In a parallel story, we also get to know Eric;s wife Amanda, a horse whisperer. But not all is well in their marriage... At this point we are 15 min. into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from up-and-coming director Joseph Kosinski, who previously directed "Ton: Legacy" and "Oblivion". In his latest, he steers away from sci-fi and instead brings us the incredible story of the Prescott, AZ wild fire squad, nicknamed the Granite Mountain Hot Shots. I expected a disaster movie, and there is certainly that too, but the movie does much more than that: it brings the story of a group of people in a way that you are completely emotionally invested in those people, and you CARE. Kosinski directs an all-star cast, headed by Josh Brolin as Eric. Is it just me, but Brolin only seems to get better as he is getting older. That guy is just solid and authentic. Miles Teller plays the role of Brendan, an unlikable character at first. Jennifer Connelly is outstanding as Eric's wife Amanda. Taylor Kitsch is one of the guys in the fire squad. In much smaller roles, Jeff Bridges is Duane (Eric's superior), and the ageless Andie MacDowell plays Duane's wife. The movie's photography is eye-candy, and the wild fire scenes, which I imagine are mostly CGI, look very real to me. Last but not least, there is a very nice musical score, courtesy of composer Joseph Trapanese (who has worked with Kosinski before).
"Only the Brave" opened wide this weekend, and I was really looking forward to seeing it. The Friday evening screening where I saw this at here in Cincinnati was attended only so-so (less than half a fairly small theater), somewhat to my surprise, given the stellar critical acclaim this movie has been getting. I can only speak for myself, but I found this to be an outstanding wild fire disaster movie that packs an emotional wallop I didn't expect. I encourage you to check out "Only the Brave", be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
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