REVIEW: Only The Brave (Blu-ray)

4 Star

I’m pretty damn ‘ard. From the neck-down, there’s not an inch of my body that isn’t coated in tattoos. I’ve been cage-diving with great white sharks and sky-dived over a volcano. I once sky-dived into a cage surrounded by sharks.

Chances are, there’s a possibility you may have believed that, because you don’t know me. But for those who (unfortunately for you) have met me, will be well aware that I’m a massive wuss. I was once asked to film a performance by Andrea Bocelli for work, and you couldn’t hear a single note of Time To Say Goodbye over my constant sobbing. (I still can’t see why I haven’t got a payrise yet.)

What I’m trying to get to is that I’m a crier.


I’d previously seen Only The Brave advertised before every single episode of Dinner Date ever, and it didn’t really appeal to me. It seemed like a pretty standard movie, which saw a down-and-out lad seek redemption by taking on a heroic act. Meh. But the Joseph Kosinski-directed drama was so, so much more than that. And then some. I’m just a tad disturbed that my mother cried more at Wreck-It Ralph than she did at this harrowing true story.

Based on the true story of an elite crew of firefighters, the Granite Mountain Hotshots, Only The Brave is dedicated in their memory after most of the crew lost their lives to the Yarnell Hill Fire in June 2013.

Admittedly, Only The Brave started off slow. It is difficult to start off fast, however, when your Hollywood A-lister cast, including Josh Brolin, are there to chop down flimsy trees that have three branches on fire for the entire first act. In fact, I’m not going to lie; what I know about fire safety, you could write on an eighth of a postage stamp, so it took me a while to get my head around what the crew were actually doing. Until Only The Brave, I thought the phrase to fight fire with fire was just a figure of speech, and only something smug Cambridge graduates said to me as I’d cower in a nearby Primark, fearing their use of idioms.


As I previously mentioned, I wasn’t totally enamoured with the plot for Miles Teller’s (who’s excellent in this, by the way) character, Brendan “Donut” McDonough. Starting as a drug-abusing, beer-swilling new-father, Brendan strives to better himself for his child’s future and blah, blah, blah. You get it. It’s not until the second act where Brendan is taken in by the Granite Mountain Hotshots that the pace begins to pick up; we see the physical and mental struggles that the firefighters had to go through, and the camaraderie between them.

I have to give a special shout-out to the director, Joseph Kosinski, for taking a more emotional approach to such a sombre project. It would have been all too easy to imagine Michael Bay casting Mark Wahlberg in every single role, and have him punch the fire out, all the while dreaming of breasts and chicken wings. Kosinski really makes you warm to the characters, and that is why the dreadful climax is so hard-hitting and raw.


Visually, Only The Brave is also pretty delightful. (I ran out of excitable adjectives. I’m sure I heard Mary Berry describe a flan as “pretty delightful”, but when you enjoy this film so much, there’s only so many ways to report it.) The lighting perfectly reflects the mood; dark, harsh neons reflect on Josh Brolin’s stern brow during arguments with his wife, and amber hues scatter across Josh Brolin’s chiselled jaw during dramatic scenes. What I’m trying to say here is that I think I fancy Josh Brolin. As you may have guessed from the entire premise of the movie, it is also a wonderful display of pyrotechnics and special effects.

If you weren’t expecting their to be any fire in this movie, maybe you should just get out now?

While some of Only The Brave was obvious, and quite long to get going, it ended up being a very touching, powerful movie. And ten points to whoever manages to spot Andie MacDowell in her two and a half milliseconds of screentime.

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