Director: Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges, James Badge Dale, Taylor Kitsch, Jennifer Connelly
Run Time: 133 mins
Only The Brave translates the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a team of firefighters who died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire in June 2013, to the screen. It is directed by Joseph Kosinski, who previously directed Tron: Legacy and Oblivion, both films that garnered mixed reviews. Kosinski has assembled an impressive cast consisting of Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Connelly to name a few of its talents and tells this inspiring story from the perspective of the firefighters and we see how this team of firefighters impact on their community and their family lives.
Only The Brave is easily the best film of Kosinki’s career and a gripping account of the subject material. It is clear that the cast have the utmost respect for these heroes, resplendent in the modest, genuine performances. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that Kosinski is more of a visionary director than a narrative one and his previous filmography is visually pleasing to look at. Why Only The Brave works so well is because it combines Kosinki’s visual talents with a very solid script, allowing a strong equilibrium between the visual and the story. Kosinski captures the forest fires extremely faithfully – they felt genuinely threatening on the screen, the images of smoke and burning woodlands. The characters are also really well developed and I felt empathy particularly for Josh Brolin and Miles Tellers’ characters, the latter being our insight into the forest firefighter industry, a character trying everything he can to turn his life around from his dark past.
The film is not quite without its flaws though: it’s a little pedestrian in places and relies on generic beats of the genre at times. Furthermore, the film also gets off to a wobbly start, with its rather initially overt and on-the-nose presentation of gender at a few moments.
That said, Only The Brave is a largely successful effort and definitely represents a peak for director Joseph Kosinski. Perhaps, like Peter Berg who has also found success with adapting true stories into films such as Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day after initially making turgid duds, this genre could be where Kosinski finally finds home as a filmmaker? Only time will tell…