Emotionally gripping films are a dime a dozen in Hollywood. There are so many touching stories to be told, and every year, there are more and more films emotionally baiting audiences to cry. “Only the Brave” is the first movie I’ve seen in several years that is deserving of every single tear fallen.
“Only The Brave” is the story of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots, a ragtag team of Arizona firefighters on the front-line defending countless homes and lives from the vicious and relentless flames of fast spreading desert fires. Led by Eric Marsh, exquisitely played by the Josh Brolin, and supported by Brendan “Donut” McDonough, played by the extraordinary talent, Miles Teller, this band of brothers and elite firefighters battle flames, family trauma, relationships collapsing, and their inner-doubt while voluntarily facing one of the most dangerous jobs imaginable.
The story follows the men as they are forced to watch helplessly as Hot Shots are designated to fight fires while they clean up the wake, often including destroyed homes and lost lives. It is their sole goal to become the ones to take on these flames head-on, and protect their loved ones, as well as countless others. After over four years of hard work and fighting for fair evaluation, they are rewarded, and proudly deemed “the Granite Mountain Hot Shots.” Finally, they will be the ones defending towns from the fiery abyss.
As the film progresses, the tolls that this superbly dangerous job takes on their families, their psyches, and their own moralities are tested. A pinnacle scene comes when Brendan McDonough, has to decide between his wife and daughter, or this band of brothers that took a chance and let him in. He has always wanted to be something more than a drug-smoking burnout, and now that he finally had this chance, he is unsure that it’s worth dying for.
Finally, the team faces an opposition greater than ever imaginable. They’re facing the colossus of fires. High flames lick the treeline and set everything in its path ablaze. The fierce winds and lack of humidity set the stage for the perfect storm of fires. Brendan is designated lookout while the rest of the team attempts to establish a barrier for the fire to deflect off of. Except the fire is too ferocious and will not relent, no matter what effort the Hot Shots make. Brendan is forced to listen over a radio that his brothers, the people who have been there for him through everything, the men he has learned to love deeper than anything else in the world, are met by the historic and terrifying flames.
This film is not just a tale regaling the unsung heroes, the ones who face nature’s fiercest elements head-on. This film is a real life reminder that a bond between brothers in arms is stronger than fear, thicker than blood, and burns in the heart hotter than fire. It’s a reminder to stare in awe as firefighters pass by, because these men and women risk their lives everyday to protect every man, woman, and child from certain death.
Firefighters are some of America’s greatest heroes. These heroic soldiers take on what only the brave dare to. It’s an unsung bravery, an eternal bond, and a triumphant and emotional story that will leave your eyes shellacked with a thick coating of tears.
At the end of the day, when danger knocks and impending doom stares us dead in the eyes, it is only the brave that walk willingly into the flames, and they do so, for us.