Based on the title of this biographic weepie alone, you can probably guess what you’re letting yourself in for when you settle in for Only the Brave’s 134-minute run time. That’s right, you can fully expect shameless heart-tugging from every angle, and a faint, but consistent, aroma of cheese.
Telling the true story of the Granite Mountain hotshots, the subject matter is relatively interesting at first. This elite team of fire fighters go up against flame after flame in a constant display of American heroism. There’s no denying that there’s something riveting about these spectacular shows, as the expert team burn out the landscape in an attempt to stop the ferocious bush fires from spreading. But this grows old fairly quickly, and there comes a time where you welcome the end of the constant reminders of their bravery.
Boasting Josh Brolin, Miles Teller and Taylor Kitsch in the leading roles, the casting is spot on – Teller, as always, is especially convincing as the ex-addict come good. But unfortunately, most of these characters are underdeveloped as the film struggles to tell various stories at the same time. An overly drawn-out introduction takes the sting out of the undeniably poignant conclusion, and with a soup of themes, ranging from the dangers of addiction, to the pain of bereavement, Only the Brave never fully establishes its true identity, and the film does ultimately suffer for this.
Despite a few comedic quips that just about hit the mark, there’s not much joy to be found here. American flag-waving aside, Only the Brave is entertaining enough if you’re willing to overlook the blatant disregard for cliché-avoidance that we see from Kosinski. But honestly, it’s probably time to stop piggy-backing national tragedies and concentrate on films that aren’t purely a patriotic tug on the heart strings.
CAST: Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Taylor Kitsch, Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Connelly
DIRECTOR: Joseph Kosinski
WRITER: Ken Nolan
SYNOPSIS: Based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a group of elite firefighters who risk everything to protect a town from a historic wildfire.