During our camping vacation this summer, we were close enough to a
wildfire to see the glow and smell the smoke.
And that was close enough for me.
Firefighters have to overcome the normal human instinct:
to run away from a blaze. Instead,
they run toward it. Or, as part of their training, build a firewall that
will counteract the inferno before them, and help it to die out for lack
of fuel. It's physically
demanding, and can also be emotionally taxing.
And that's if everything goes well.
“Only The Brave” is the true story of the Granite Mountain
Hotshots, of Prescott, Arizona, the only municipal fire department ever to
be officially certified as one of the elite groups on the front line,
fighting forest fires. Since
they were a close-knit group, we get to know some of the men personally,
including the Supervisor, or “Sup,” Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin), who's a
hard worker and has garnered the respect of
his whole crew. But all
is not well with his lovely wife Amanda (Jennifer Connelly), because
though they started out saying they didn't want any children, she's now
changed her mind. And he
Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller) is a guy who's been known as an
underachiever, and a drug addict. The
rest of the men can't believe the “Sup” is going to give this guy a
chance, but what they don't know is that “Sup” sees a lot of himself
in Brendan. He won't coddle
him. But he will give him an
opportunity to prove that he's really turned his life around.
We follow this rough, gruff group of men who are highly-trained but
also still capable of silly pranks on each other.
Some of their personal lives are examplary, others not so much.
But they're all serious about their work.
Even down to the drill where they cover themselves in a cocoon of
fire-repellent material and lie face down on the ground in preparation for
the worst: the fire's out of
control, and it's headed right toward them.
Some of the camaraderie seems a bit contrived.
The Mayor and the Fire Chief come across as somewhat stiff and
officious (even though the Fire Chief is Jeff Bridges, who's normally
utilized better). It's longer
than it needs to be. And yet,
it packs a wallop at the end, which hopefully won't be given away before
you get a chance to experience the impact yourself.