ONLY THE BRAVE (M) Di­rec­tor: Joseph Kosin­ski (Obliv­ion) Star­ring: Josh Brolin, Jeff Bridges, Miles Teller, Tay­lor Kitsch, Jen­nifer Con­nelly. Rat­ing:

Sunday Territorian - - FRONTIER MOVIES -

IN Only the Brave, we ex­pe­ri­ence the grip­ping true story of one of the dead­li­est wild­fires in US his­tory: the Yar­nell Hill blaze that hit in West­ern Ari­zona in July 2013.

As many bush­land re­gions right around Aus­tralia brace them­selves for another sum­mer where fires will be an ever-present dan­ger, the re­lease of this movie could not be any more timely. Just as im­por­tantly, Only the Brave serves as a wel­come re­minder that we should never take for granted the ef­forts of those who put them­selves be­tween the flames and our homes with­out a sec­ond thought.

How­ever, this isn’t merely an ex­er­cise in back­slap­ping for a job well done. The movie also de­liv­ers a deeper, nu­anced study of the fine art of fire­fight­ing — par­tic­u­larly in open coun­try — than ever seen be­fore. Un­like most con­ven­tional tales of hero­ism on the big screen, Only the Brave will not be rushed get­ting to Yar­nell Hill in­ci­dent, a cat­a­clysm that spawned sev­eral sober­ing cases of gen­uine brav­ery and great sac­ri­fice. Un­usu­ally, the film­mak­ers go out of their way to humbly hu­man­ise as many of its char­ac­ters as pos­si­ble.

Not just the cel­e­brated mem­bers of the Gran­ite Moun­tain Hot­shots — the first ru­ral fire­fight­ing crew in Amer­ica ever li­censed to tackle ma­jor-cat­e­gory blazes — but also their fam­ily and friends. A su­perb ensem­ble cast led by Josh Brolin (the un­con­ven­tional leader of the Gran­ite Moun­tain out­fit), Jeff Bridges (a long­time men­tor to the team), Miles Teller (a for­mer drug ad­dict ris­ing through the ranks with aplomb) and Tay­lor Kitsch (not happy to have an ex-junkie at his side) all pull to­gether with­out any show­boat­ing what­so­ever.

By the time the nat­u­ral dis­as­ter of Yar­nell Hill is ramp­ing up, both the risks fac­ing these men and the fears eat­ing away at their loved ones have been soul­fully brought to the fore.

While this means the pac­ing can be overly slug­gish at times, the fi­nal im­pact of Only the Brave cour­ses far deeper than this type of fare usu­ally can. If you are un­fa­mil­iar with what ul­ti­mately tran­spired up there on Yar­nell Hill, don’t hunt around on­line for any hints. The fright­en­ing last act of the movie will be­come all the more pow­er­ful for those ex­pe­ri­enc­ing it ‘in the mo­ment.’

Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller) in Only the Brave

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