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Only The Brave – film review

December 4, 2017

ONLY THE BRAVE

Oblivion helmer delivers profoundly moving, hugely affecting third feature.

Reviewed on Saturday 2nd December 2017

Directed by Joseph Kosinski. Screenplay by Ken Nolan and Eric Warren Singer. Starring: Miles Teller, Josh Brolin, Taylor Kitsch, Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Connelly. Running time: 134 mins.

A true-life account of a legendary squad of Arizona wildfire fighters known as The Granite Mountain Hotshots who, on June 30th 2013, faced the biggest challenge       of their lives – survival.

Helmer Joseph Kosinki has quickly established himself as a one of the most exciting directors around today. With his previous films Tron Legacy and the insanely underappreciated Oblivion already demonstrating a keen eye for impressive visuals and the ability to effectively immerse an audience within the worlds depicted. With this latest offering, Only The Brave, Kosinski here demonstrates he is also more than capable of engaging an audience emotionally with the characters on screen.

Despite some clunky expositional dialogue early on, the screenplay by Ken Nolan     and Eric Warren Singer (based on a GQ magazine article) – does a nice job             of steering well away from cliched melodrama in the depiction of the various relationships the principal characters have with their significant others. While     Jennifer Connelly once again demonstrates why she is considered one of the best actors of her generation – here essaying Josh Brolin’s headstrong love interest.

Set over a period of several years, we are given ample opportunity to see these characters evolve – as we ultimately develop a genuine fondness for each of them. While essentially an ensemble piece, the success of this film really rests squarely   on the shoulders of Miles Teller – here playing a recovering junkie, looking to reform and clean up his act after the birth of his daughter. And Teller does a exceptional job in generating sympathy for his character in the face of his character’s major flaw. While Josh Brolin is equally solid in his role as the determined squad leader – a man also dealing with his own demons. And the great Jeff Bridges is, as always, a joy to watch – here delivering one of the best lines in the film, in a scene where he pep talks the Granite Mountain squad, prior to their all-important evaluation, “The only place you’ll find sympathy here – is in a dictionary. Somewhere between shit and syphilis.”

Utilizing his training as an architect, Kosinski possesses a heightened ability to stage spatially-coherent action sequences – so we know precisely where we are geographically at any given time. And the seamless blending of practical and CG effects (not to mention the impressively immersive sound design) – really does give us a sense of being right there – in the middle of the action. The beautifully-staged aerial sequences, involving various water bombing aircraft (both fixed wing and helicopters) are also a major draw card – making it apparent why Kosinski has been rumoured to be on-board with the Top Gun sequel for Tom Cruise. And based on his achievement with this film alone, things are looking very good for that long-awaited movie, if he is indeed attached. The surreally-handled reveal of a Sikorsky helicopter sucking water from a man’s swimming pool, which happens within the first few minutes – was the moment this film hooked me and didn’t let go.

And the ending. Oh boy, the ending. Being completely unaware of the true-life     story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots (and deciding not to research the subject beforehand) – this made the finale, for me anyway, all the more devastating. I highly recommend any prospective viewers of this film shy away from knowing anything about the actual events before going in, particularly if you want to experience the visceral gut-punch of the film’s final minutes to their full effect.

Only The Brave is a superbly-crafted and compelling illustration of the best aspects of the human condition – best experienced on the biggest screen possible.

4 stars out of 5

Star ratings: 1 – poor / 2 – below average / 3 – good / 4 – excellent / 5 – unmissable

Viewed at the Wallis Cinemas Mitcham, Adelaide, December 2nd 2017

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-fi thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.

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