By Jason Yon
Senior Writer

“Only the Brave” is the true story of a group of Arizona brush firefighters called the Granite Mountain Hotshots. I usually don’t jump for the “based on a true story” movies, but this one immediately caught my eye.

Not only does it feature an amazing cast, but the story hits fairly close to home.  Being from Southern California, I’ve experienced my fair share of large wildfires and their effects. Wildfires like the ones shown in “Only the Brave” don’t happen everywhere, and I think it is a good thing for this story to be in theaters across the country so people can experience something close to what it is like.

The movie follows the Granite Mountain Hotshots from their infancy, through their certification as a Type 1 Wildfire Hotshot crew, and eventually to their unfortunate deaths at the Yarnell Hill fire in 2013.

While the movie includes every member of the 20-man crew, the majority of the arc is told through the eyes of Brendan McDonough, played by Miles Teller.

“Only the Brave” splits the story pretty evenly between the family of the Hotshots and each crew member’s respective family and home life. The men’s homelife was considerable strained due to the amount of time they spent in the field and “Only the Brave” displays this stress very well.”

The best part of “Only the Brave” is by far the cast and how their own chemistry represents that of the real Granite Mountain Hotshots. Among the cast is Josh Brolin, Jeff Bridges, and Taylor Kitsch, all of which performed wonderfully. Each and every member of the cast played their part to make the screen version of the Granite Mountain Hotshots seem like the family they were in real life. Every moment the crew is together is fantastic, especially when they joke around with each other and play pranks. The movie really drives home the idea that these men were part of a brotherhood.

The interesting thing about the fire in “Only the Brave” is that it almost has a personality. It is absolutely the antagonist of the movie and, at times, the fire can seem alive. Almost every time Eric Marsh (Brolin) is seen alone, he speaks to the fire like an old enemy. Throughout the movie, Marsh struggles with flashbacks and PTSD from previous fires. When most people think of fires, they wouldn’t think of speed, but the wildfires of “Only the Brave” are fast moving infernos that could easily overtake an unskilled bystander. The movie makes it clear that these kinds of fires are worthy of being feared.

“Only the Brave” highlights the tragic true story of a team of heroes involved in a unique and amazing line of work. While it is a true story that some people may already be familiar with, this movie is definitely worth seeing. Not only does the cast do an excellent job of acting like a well-trained unit of friends ,but the scenes where they engage the fires are exciting and amazing. The movie has shed light on an occupation that most people might not have known existed, especially people who don’t live in places threatened by wildfires, and more specifically highlighted the heroism of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

Score: A

The Elm

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