It’s not what stands in front of you… it’s who stands beside you. Only the Brave, based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, 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 nation. 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.

What We Thought:

The last 20 minutes or so of Only the Brave are some of the most gut punching, heart wrenching scenes of film you’ll see this year. It’s a shame it took close to 2 hours to get to that point.

The film is the latest based on true story adaptation that you aren’t sure what is real and what was Hollywood-ized. What happens at the end is true, but the stories beforehand, who knows? It’s based on the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a firefighter unit that, well, do yourself a favor and know as little as possible going into the film. You’ll have expectations because obviously something happens or else there wouldn’t be a movie made, but trust me, it’s more brutal than any expectations you can have.

I’m about to nitpick this movie and I kinda feel bad for nitpicking a movie about a devastating event, but I’m nitpicking the movie and not the story. The movie itself is way too long. It’s over 2 hours and feels even longer. There are a number of scenes that serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever. They are filler and don’t really push the story forward. There are characters and substories thrown around that make you unsure who the story is really about.

Josh Brolin is the leader of the unit so you lean towards the movie being about him. Miles Teller is a junkie trying to get his life straight after becoming a father. You start thinking it’s his film. But then they go back to Brolin and his relationship with his wife played by Jennifer Connelly. I’ve had a crush on Connelly for over 30 years and even I thought most of her scenes were unnecessary. She works with horses and at no point does any of that play out in the film. Jeff Bridges plays the big boss and some of his stuff could have been cut. It’s about 2 hours of relationships and character development and all I cared about was the fire you knew was coming.

The worst part is, the film looks beautiful and has a gripping story. There are some fantastic shots in the movie. A helicopter flies over a swimming pool to pick up water to dump on a fire and the shot was incredible. The backdrop and scenery are also beautiful. Add in a story about an underdog firefighter unit and an event that happens to them and it should be a slamdunk. Instead we get too much going on and not enough of the big stuff.

Only the Brave will hit you where it hurts at the very end. Even a cynical, jaded jerk like myself felt something. Unfortunately it takes forever to get to that point. Yes, I understand you need to build up the characters so you do feel something for them at the end, but there is way too many unnecessary stories and scenes in the film. Still, firefighters are true heroes and these men should be praised for doing their job. I wish the film was tighter because I wanted to love it.

Cast & Crew:

  • Josh Brolin
  • Miles Teller
  • Jeff Bridges
  • James Badge Dale
  • Taylor Kitsch
  • Jennifer Connelly

Recommended If You Like:

  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Lone Survivor

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