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Review: Only the Brave

Only the Brave
10.18.2017
8 10

PLOT: The true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite crew of firefighters dedicated to fighting wildfires all over the United States.

REVIEW: Watching ONLY THE BRAVE I couldn’t help but think that twenty years ago this would have been a Jerry Bruckheimer-level A-list tentpole summer release. It’s so seemingly commercial it hurts. It’s a star-laden movie with an interesting, based-on-fact, premise, amazing CGI effects, and tons of human interest to tug at the heartstrings. Yet, in the modern film landscape, ONLY THE BRAVE is so dicey a prospect that one company (Lionsgate) actually sold it off to another (Sony), and despite mostly positive reviews, no one’s expecting it to make a dent at the box office. In the nineties, this would have been another TWISTER.

Whatever its commercial reception is, ONLY THE BRAVE is a thoroughly compelling action-adventure, with the added appeal of being based on a true story. Its genesis lies in a GQ article (check it out) that’s well worth a read – but only after seeing it as not knowing the outcome undoubtedly gives it more of a kick.

Directed by TRON: LEGACY and OBLIVION’s Joseph Kosinski, it’s a solid attempt by him to make something a little more grounded, and good practice for his upcoming TOP GUN sequel, with it actually sharing some thematic similarities to that ’86 classic. An unabashedly patriotic, macho “men-on-a-mission” movie, Josh Brolin stars as the grizzled chief, who has enough quirks to avoid becoming a cliché, with him sporting eye glasses (it’s so rare you see a bespectacled action hero outside KINGSMAN) and carrying prayer beads that suggest he’s a Buddhist. Miles Teller is the Maverick character, a recovering crack-addict who tries to shape up for his infant daughter by joining the hotshots, only to find both a calling and a BFF in Taylor Kitsch’s likable joke-cracking fireman.

The ensemble is completed by Kosinski’s old TRON: LEGACY star, Jeff Bridges, less ornery than usual as Brolin’s mentor (he even gets to warble a country tune), and Jennifer Connelly, offering some much needed female perspective in a gutsier-than-usual part as Brolin’s wife (although the line, “it can’t be easy sharing your man with fire” is a bit groan worthy). Kosinki’s film benefits from his usual crew, including Joseph Trapanese, who delivers a solidly propulsive score that avoids maudlin territory, and ace DP Claudio Miranda. Brolin anchors the whole thing with his sturdy, heroic performance, while Teller reminded me of a young Sean Penn as the screw-up turned hero.

One area ONLY THE BRAVE easily bests TRON: LEGACY and OBLIVION is in the scripting, with Ken Nolan (BLACK HAWK DOWN) and Eric Warren Singer (AMERICAN HUSTLE & HER) delivering a well-written vehicle for all involved, making this far less cookie cutter than it could have been. While still more of a traditional actioner than the docudrama-esque DEEPWATER HORIZON, ONLY THE BRAVE (which formerly had the more appropriate title GRANITE MOUNTAIN) is a great piece of entertainment. The pace never lags and all the performances have an air of authenticity that makes this one a cut above. Were the movie biz fair, this would be a blockbuster.


Source: JoBlo.com

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