Only the Brave

You know how it is going to end, leaving most of you reduced to tears. But you really should see it anyway.

Only the BraveOnly the Brave is a two hour and fourteen minute film based on a tragedy that happened outside of Prescott, Arizona in 2013. Nineteen firefighters died fighting a wildfire that went beyond the control of their expertise, and this is the story of them saying goodbye to life on Earth.

To begin with, Director Joseph Kozinski’s film has an honesty that exceeds expectations. A group of firefighters, led by Josh Brolin in his role as Eric Marsh, are fighting for recognition that will enhance their stature as elite firefighters. This is a crew that is on the road for close to a month at a time, and their dedication tests our boys’ ability to maintain a family life at home.

In the process, you see our group’s wives, girlfriends and children forming a tightknit support organization that extends incredible meaning .as they venture into dangerous wildfires. Personal relationships are not sugarcoated in any fashion, and this adds an emotional quality to the film.

This is most dramatically played out in the relationship by Brolin’s Marsh in his attempt to hold his marriage together with a wife marvelously played by Jennifer Connelly. Ms. Connelly is dedicated to tending a ranch where she raises horses among other things, and she is a strong-willed, intelligent woman. While she loves her husband, his frequent absences stand in the way of beginning a family.

And then there was Miles Teller, who played Brendan McDonough, a drug abusing ex-con who was seeking to find a bit of salvation by joining our respected professional group. Known as Donut, he finds the courage to reconnect with an old girlfriend who he abandoned despite the fact that she was about to give birth to his child.

These and other stories were wonderfully interconnected and proved to have  a significant impact. And it is worth mentioning that the relationship of the firefighters both at home base and on the road at times resembled raucous interplay that you would expect at some college fraternity.

All of the above is important because you develop a closeness to these guys despite their flaws that makes it difficult to watch their eventual fate. One survives by accident, and their families are obviously devastated.

Let me close by noting that Jeff Bridges adds strength to the film playing Duane Steinbrink, the man with overall charge of firefighters in the Prescott area. His relationship with Brolin characterizes what you would always expect from his performance on screen, and it is worth noting that he also has a great scene where he is playing a guitar while singing with his band at a party attended by our firefighters.

The movie ends with pictures of our actors superimposed with actual pictures of the deceased characters they played. This film pays tribute to those average guys trying to help their fellow man, and it makes it a film that is worth seeing on the big screen.