ONLY THE BRAVE is an Intelligent Harrowing Memoir

ONLY THE BRAVE is an intelligent, harrowing, and eventually heartbreaking memoir to the Granite Mountain Hotshots. I knew little of the story but was all in for a firefight action movie with one of the best ensemble casts of 2017. I expected some action, some drama but generally predictable Hollywood schmaltz, what was delivered however was something much more nuanced and delicate, and a movie made out respect and honour.

ONLY THE BRAVE is out Thursday 23rd November in Australia from the folks at StudioCanal. It is rated M and runs for 134mins.


Only The Brave Josh Brolin image
Josh Brolin




All men are created equal… then, a few become firefighters. ONLY THE BRAVE, based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, is the heroic story of one unit of local firefighters that through hope, determination, sacrifice, and the drive to protect families, communities, and their country become one of the most elite firefighting teams in the U.S.A.. As most of us run from danger, they run toward it, they watch over our lives, our homes, everything we hold dear, as they forge a unique brotherhood that comes into focus with one fateful fire, the notorious Yarnell Hill Fire of 2013.


Only The Brave movie image



Joseph Kisinski is a seldom, passionate and very successful director. He makes a movie about once every three and a half years and his resume reads TRONG: LEGACY (2010), OBLIVION (2017) and ONLY THE BRAVE (2017), that is going to be a three for three on success front. That’s a bankable director. He is also oddly rumoured to be directing the TOP GUN SEQUEL – titled MAVERICK. He directs ONLY THE BRAVE delicately and with the sole purpose of delivering nothing but respect for the GRANITE MOUNTAIN HOTSHOTS and their families. The movie is the equivalent of a bronze statue in their honour.

You could imagine this being a commercial Michael Bay Hollywood nightmare but instead it is more of a drama bringing the cast to the viewer and slow building the story. Action and fire is used when necessary for the story’s progression only. What is delivered is one inspiring and heartbreaking movie and one that is worthy of the men and women of the Hotshots. One thing that did make me smile, there isn’t an over saturation of American flag waving heroism.

The movie is based on the GQ article “No Exit” by Sean Flynn. Brendan McDonough, the Hotshot played by Miles Teller,  has a full account in his own book titled GRANITE MOUNTAIN – I will be locating and reading this book, the story needs more visitation.


Technically the movie is flawless, the directing is nuanced as I expect from Kisinksi, the Cinematography from Claudio Miranda (LIFE OF PI, TRON: LEGACY) is brilliant and the Special and Visual Effects are off the charts.

The movie uses a lot of real fire and it lights up the screen (see what I did there?). I listened to an interview this week and Taylor Kitsch and James Badge Dale backed out of a fire scene because it was literally too scary. They came back after it was a little more under control.


Only The Brave movie image



This is a movie about the brotherhood forged and bromance bonds gained from working so close to men in such a dangerous profession. It isn’t a career one seeks, it’s a forever lifestyle that seeps into your blood and fibre. The casting of ONLY THE BAVE is another of the movie’s successes. It’s a large ensemble cast as their is twenty hotshots in the Granite Mountain Hotshots and then there is also the wives and various extra cast. The chemistry of such a large family is as important as the story itself, and it works wonderfully.

The leads are some of my favourite actors. Josh Brolin is perfect in this movie, as always! Miles Teller pretty much steals the show for me, watching his character evolve onscreen was mesmerising. Taylor Kitsch was a highlight of the movie and a great comic relief of sorts. Jennifer Connelly is another one of my faves and was a perfect match for Brolin. She is a superb horse whisperer and couldn’t look more at home with horses in the country. I would be amiss if I didn’t mention one of my favourite actors of all time – Jeff Bridges. This man is a legend and I can’t get enough of him. He has an emotional outburst while driving in the movie that I will remember for the rest of my life.


Only The Brave Crew 7 image
Crew 7



ONLY THE BRAVE is a movie that has stayed with me long after the viewing. It will make you laugh, sit on the edge of your seat, hold your breath, warm your heart and then kick you in the stomach. Powerful and emotionally charged, my heart goes out to the folks of Granite Mountain. I can’t recommend this movie enough.





 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the  industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher.