I received an offer to attend the advanced screening of Only the Brave today (it will be out in Australia on November 30, 2017). I deliberately avoided any synopsis or articles that reveal the storyline – but I did notice that the movie had received favourable reviews and ratings in general. So, if you are planning to see the movie, I am going to return the favour by not revealing too much about what happens in the movie. You can (if you want to) do some research to find out what happened to the real characters in the movie, but I think it will affect how you see the movie. Of course, if you live in the US and you do know what happened, it would certainly give you another level of appreciation and poignancy of the whole situation.
Only the Brave – directed by Joseph Kosinski – tells a story of a group of local firefighters that are based in Prescott, Arizona. It centres around Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin), the head of the firefighters who try to get their accreditation to be ‘Hotshots’ – an elite group of firefighters that are on call to battle forest fires. Against all odds, he manages to get the team evaluated and accredited – and forms ‘Granite Mountain Hotshots’. Other main characters in the movie are Amanda Marsh (Jennifer Connelly) – Eric’s wife – who has to deal with having a husband who is dedicated to fighting forest fires, and Brendan ‘Donut’ McDonough (Miles Teller) – an ex-druggie who wants to turn his life around after the birth of his daughter. The movie sure has impressive ensemble of actors – including Jeff Bridge and Andie MacDowell.
The movie is leisurely paced for the first one-third of the movie – it seems like nothing major is happening and that everything is quite beige and docile. At the end of the movie, I appreciated why. It prepares the viewers for the shocking finale. Each layer of the film has to be built carefully and sensitively, as the story deals with a real tragedy that happened in 2013, affecting families who are still dealing with the loss of their loved ones. Not knowing the extent of the tragedy, prior to seeing the movie I suspected that there would be casualties and tragedy. However, when it was finally revealed what happened, I, along with other members of the audience, couldn’t help shedding a tear or two, for the loss of lives.
Living in Australia, we deal with our own version of forest fires (“bushfires”). Through this movie, I have gained more understanding and respect towards the CFS (Country Fire Service) crews and volunteers, who work hard to control bushfires every year around Australia. This movie is a reminder for us to be thankful that there are heroes out there who risk their lives to save ours.