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Wick's Review

Created Nov 03, 2017 09:30PM PST • Edited Nov 06, 2017 08:47PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Really Great 4.5

    See this movie. It’s our duty as citizens, but also deeply cathartic. Tears ran down my face, twice, yet my heart was warmed. Real men behaving chivalrously does that to me, inspires a man-cry. Strong women too!

    Unwieldy title aside, Only the Brave artfully recounts the story of the 19 Arizona hotshots killed in 2013. What was unfathomable is now understandable, after the movie, yet in a gentle way. We don’t see them die. The movie is about how they lived, loved and trained, followed by the brave grief of friends and families.

    Basically, Only the Brave is the firefighters’ Lone Survivor. SEALs in the greatest bromance movie of all time, hotshots here. Just as SEALs aren’t ordinary warfighters, hotshots aren’t ordinary firemen. They’re the farthest thing from hose-monsters, these guys. They literally fight fire with fire, lighting backfires to fight forest fires, raging forest fires, far from help. Thus their camaraderie and sense of mission echoes the SEALs, and their exploits are very cool. Plus, Taylor Kitsch stars in both movies, which makes sense.

    Many key moments are non-verbal, evincing a sophistication one might not expect from a movie about rough-hewn people in flyover country. Verbal or otherwise, a cast led by Josh Brolin, with Jennifer Connelly as his wife and Jeff Bridges his mentor, is bound to be damn great. These are big-time moviestars in roles commensurate to their particular talents. Miles Teller and Taylor Kitsch also do career-best work.

    Men are men and women are women in rural Arizona. Both are strong, very strong, as is Only the Brave.

  3. Really Great 4.5
    The Granite Mountain Hotshots

    The cast carries the weight of playing all real people, 19 of them heroes who were killed in action.

    • Josh Brolin’s movie stardom started young, but really took off in the 21st century, where he’s been knocking out killer performances like clockwork for the past 15 years or so, including in Gangster Squad and Milk (both with Sean Penn), and Sicario, to name three. He does honor to Eric Marsh, “Supe” of the Granite Mountain Hotshots and husband to Jennifer Connolly’s Amanda.
    • Miles Teller goes from addled to admirable as Brendan McDonough, nicknamed “Donut” because he’s a zero early in training. That’s an impressive character journey delivered by the manly young actor of the moment.
    • James Badge Dale makes Jesse Steed a credible co-captain and stalwart family-man.
    • Taylor Kitsch delivers arguably his best movie role as the ladykiller Chris MacKenzie. I’ve often said that TK is best when he doesn’t have to speak, but he talks often here, often in comic relief, and never flubs. Bravo!
    • Geoff Stults as Travis Turbyfill, Alex Russell as Andrew Ashcraft, Thad Luckinbill as Scott Norris, Ben Hardy as Wade Parker, Scott Haze as Clayton Whitted, Jake Picking as Anthony “Baby-G” Rose, Scott Foxx as Travis Carter, Dylan Kenin as Robert Caldwell, Ryan Busch as Dustin DeFord, Kenny Miller as Sean Misner, Ryan Jason Cook as William Warneke, Brandon Bunch as Garret Zuppiger, Matthew Van Wettering as Joe Thurston, Michael McNulty as Kevin Woyjeck, Nicholas Jenks as John Percin, Jr., and Sam Quinn as Grant McKee
    Friends & Family
    • Jennifer Connelly has long since matured into a marvelously soulful moviestar, here Amanda Marsh, wife to Josh Brolin’s Eric Marsh. Their’s is a marriage of great character and depth, due in no small part to Connelly & Brolan’s dopio gravitas.
    • Jeff Bridges & Andie MacDowell lend powerful supporting turns as Duane & Marvel Steinbrink, friends and mentors to Brolan & Connelly.
    • Natalie Hall impresses as a young mother.
  4. Male Stars Really Great 4.5
  5. Female Stars Really Great 4.5
  6. Female Costars Really Great 4.5
  7. Male Costars Really Great 4.5
  8. Perfect 5.0

    Big time action combined with sophisticated human observation make Only the Brave an exceptional film. Carrying the weight of depicting the Yarnell Hill Fire – without flinching – bespeaks uncommon grace.

    One terrific scene among many: a community of wives, family and friends awaits the terrible news about their men, when one hotshot enters the room. Instantly, everyone who sees him knows that his presence means their man is dead. Powerful and brilliant filmmaking, this!

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0

    Joseph Kosinski has delivered a perfect film about a profoundly heavy incident that resonated across the entire nation.

  10. Play Perfect 5.0

    Ken Nolan & Eric Warren Singer’s screenplay from Sean Flynn’s GQ article No Exit reveals its secrets in due time, deepening the film’s draw as it progresses even into the third reel.

  11. Music Perfect 5.0
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0
  13. Content
  14. Risqué 2.4

    You never have to cover your eyes, thank goodness!

  15. Sex Titillating 1.8
  16. Violence Brutal 2.9
  17. Rudeness Salty 2.5
  18. Glib 1.2

    Only the Brave apparently sticks admirably close to the facts, albeit I marked up its circoreality to 160% of actual reality to account for a modicum of artistic license.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.6
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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