Only the Brave

Out Now On-Demand

It's not what stands in front of you. It's who stands beside you.

Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Josh Brolin and Jeff Bridges star in this drama based on the true story of the 2013 Yarnell Fire in Arizona. From the director of Oblivion and TRON: Legacy, and bizarrely featuring a cast member named Forrest Fyre in a minor supporting role (no, we are not making this up).

In 2013, one of the most destructive wildfires in American history devastated Arizona. An elite crew of firefighters - the Granite Mountain Hotshots - heroically combatted the blaze, in what was the deadliest incident of any kind for U.S. firefighters since the terrorist attacks of September 11. 

Director Joseph Kosinski follows up his sci-fi pics with the down-to-earth true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a group of elite US firefighters who risked all to save their town. Think The Perfect Storm, only in a forest, and you’re in the ballpark for a drama jettisoning macho posturing and Hollywood heroics for a respectful, low-key approach.

Josh Brolin is the tough leader, fighting to get his team certified as “Hotshots”, ready to protect their town from forest fire. He’s aided by Jeff Bridges, barely recognisable as ‘The Dude’ save when singing and strumming guitar at a hoedown. Miles Teller is a young recruit, set on cleaning up his act and caring for his new-born daughter, by joining Brolin’s crew.

Cinematographer Caudio Miranda catches the simultaneous beauty and horror of forest fire, whilst Joseph Trapanese’s score serves but never overwhelms the action. Eschewing formulaic clichéd action beats, Only the Brave shows the fire-fighters training and working, but also the characters’ home lives, kids and wives. Jennifer Connelly as Brolin’s horse-whispering partner delivers a rounded character, with the entire cast delivering sincere performances - from Taylor Kitsch, James Badge Dale and Andie MacDowell, to the improbably named Forrest Fyre as the town’s mayor.

These imperfect people, facing extraordinary circumstances, become realistic relatable heroes, thanks to a committed cast, a director ditching showy tricks, and a narrative that takes its time. Some may find the first hour slow going, but the sincere investment in character pays off in a final act that manages to be genuinely moving.

Los Angeles Times

press

While "Only the Brave" is consistently involving and entertaining, [its] desire to be accurate about a heroic reality proves to be an at times awkward fit with the conventions of this kind of earnest and old-fashioned Hollywood film.

New York Times

press

This may not be a story of triumph, but it's inspiring nevertheless.

TimeOut (New York)

press

While aspects of the routine become mundane, it's the developing brotherhood amongst the men, and the sense of community around them, that ultimately strengthens this story.

The Guardian (UK)

press

Only The Brave leaves a mark.

Variety (USA)

press

A gripping and powerfully emotional portrait of yee-haw heroism, pitting a squad of cocky, calendar-purty white dudes against an adversary with no creed or colour, just an unquenchable appetite for destruction.

Hollywood Reporter

press

An engaging account of a tragic real-life story.

Screen International

press

A true-life drama with a sure sense of character and milieu, "Only the Brave" is a thoughtful, well-observed look at community, heroism and addiction.

NZ Herald (Francesca Rudkin)

press

It takes a very respectful view of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, with just the right emotional kick to leave an impression.

Stuff.co.nz (Sarah Watt)

press

Tells its tale well enough, but ultimately it's the flames that move fastest.

Sydney Morning Herald

press

A corny but heartfelt look at devastating real-life story.