Only the Brave 2017 action adventure
In the first few frames of the film we read “Based on True Events” of the Yarnell Hill Wildfire in Arizona. Perhaps you remember the deadly forest fire south of Prescott, Arizona in 2007. I did not, so the movie was a revelation to me. As I write this review, thirteen years after the event and three years since the film release, much has changed. I now live in a forest on a mountainside, and am painfully aware of the dangers of wildfires. The summer of 2020 has seen one of the worst Wildfire seasons on record – here in Colorado massive burns have set new state records, and the monster fire at Cameron Peak is still burning strong, as I write this review. With my interest peaked about wildfires, I was glad to discover this excellent movie.
Only the Brave could have gone in any number of directions, but it’s not a documentary, by any means. The filmmakers have no particular responsibility to hew to the exact details, but they got the key facts correct. Instead they delivered a character study with plenty of exciting action. The movie seeks a greater truth; trying to get at what makes someone with courage and strength and weakness and fear and flaws decide to risk it all in the face of deadly danger — in other words, what makes a real hero.
This is an intense movie, and also very realistic. The movie makers did an outstanding job of putting the audience right in the center of the action, for an inside look at fighting wildfires, and introduces the audience to the complex nature of battling an ever changing relentless foe. If you’ve never seen Josh Brolin in a movie before, you might think Hollywood found a fire chief who could act and stuck him in front of the camera. He creates a character so real and believable and human. It is a powerhouse, Oscar worthy performance. The supporting cast of young fire fighters is solid and believable.
This review is purposely vague about the plot. It is best to watch the movie and experience the events as they unfold. Don’t read any plot synopses, because depending on which ones you read, the entire movie could be spoiled by the first sentence. The film gave me a better understanding of what it takes to fight a major wildfire. As depicted in the movie, battling wildfires is incredibly hard labor and definitely a younger man’s job. I enjoyed this movie and my only regret is that I did not get to see it on the big screen.
It was a shame this excellent film was ignored during the 2017 awards season, but the social climate of the year wasn’t in the mood to honor this type of movie – heroic white males fighting fires to protect their fellow American citizens. Instead the Academy chose to heap praise and awards on very forgettable, preachy propaganda flicks while bestowing the Best Picture award on The Shape of Water – an utterly strange, mind numbing movie about a love story with the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Are you kidding me? After you watch Only the Brave, you’ll realize how ridiculous those choices were.
Written by Ben Clark. Copyright 2016-2021. All rights reserved.