‘Only the Brave’ Movie Review: A Riveting Action Drama

Only the Brave stars Miles Teller and Taylor Kitsch
Miles Teller and Taylor Kitsch stars in Columbia Pictures’ ‘Only the Brave’ (Photo by Richard Foreman © 2017 CTMG)

“Sooner or later the fire is going to come knocking at our home town. But until we’re certified, my crew won’t even be able to set foot on the line,” says Eric March (Josh Brolin) to Duane Steinbrink (Jeff Bridges), making the powerful argument that his crew needs to be promoted to frontline firefighters in the dramatic film, Only the Brave.

Marsh leads a crew of twenty T1 firefighters in Prescott, Arizona, a designation signifying they’re the mop-up crew to the frontline firefighters nicknamed “Hotshots.” Marsh knows more about wildfires and how they burn than most firemen on the force, yet he and his men have been held back due to budgets and some unnecessary political games being played. Concerned about what looks to be a bad wildfire season, Marsh pushes once again for his crew to get certified.

Looking to replace two men who left Marsh’s crew, Eric interviews young Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller), a burnout and recovering drug addict who admits he’s made some bad choices in the past. Brendan recently discovered he’s going to be a father and wants his daughter to have things his father never gave him. Basically, he wants to be a good dad. Marsh, seeing a little of himself in the young man, decides to give him a chance.

As the rookies and established firefighters learn to work together as a team and to look out for each other, Marsh realizes he has the best firefighting crew in the state and hopes that their talent, drive, and determination will be enough to get them certified in time for the worst fire season in Arizona’s history.

Based on a true story, Only the Brave is a powerful, engaging, and inspirational film that captures the heart, courage, and spirit of ordinary men who put themselves in harm’s way to protect their town. The film’s also a well-deserved tribute to the Granite Mountain Hotshots who met with tragedy during the 2013 wildfires.

Josh Brolin delivers another great performance as Eric Marsh, the crew chief who knows his men are the best firefighting crew in Arizona and need to be on the frontlines to do the most good for their town. Marsh is a haunted man with a troubled past but has more than enough strength to lead his crew. He’s incredibly perceptive and understands how bad the wildfires will become. Brolin portrays perfectly Marsh’s tough and determined leadership as well as the softer and caring side towards his wife, Amanda (Jennifer Connelly), and the men who he holds dear to his heart.

Miles Teller delivers a solid performance as Brendan, the burnout who’s determined to work hard and be a good provider for his baby girl. Along the way Brendan becomes a strong member of the crew and eventually bonds with the one member who couldn’t stand him at first, Mackenzie, played by Taylor Kitsch. Teller and Kitsch have superb chemistry in the second half of the film as they become roommates and eventually best friends. One of the most entertaining scenes in the film is when Brendan finally gets to have his infant daughter stay over for the weekend and he and MacKenzie panic and struggle to take care of her when she develops a fever.

The film, extremely well-directed by Joseph Kosinski, also brings to the screen the camaraderie and brotherhood that develops between the men in the crew and their chief. Only the Brave captures how these men will tease, insult, and kid one another, but in an instant be willing to risk their lives for each other.

With a well-written script, a strong cast, and a story worthy to be told, Only the Brave is a fitting tribute to likeable, honest, and hardworking men who were nothing less than real life heroes. See it.


MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic content, some sexual references, language and drug material

Running Time: 133 minutes

Release Date: October 20, 2017