Friday, 10 November 2017

Only The Brave

The writers of the TV show Entourage can tell the future. I firmly believe this. First they took potshots at Harvey Weinstein (Weinguard in the show) back in 2005. Then they made an Aquaman film 12 years before the real one arrives this month in The Justice League. Then they made a film about Pablo Escobar years before the TV show Narcos appeared. And last they showed a film being made called Smoke Jumpers. About a doomed company of firemen tackling a massive forest blaze.. 

Which brings me to Only The Brave. A film about a doomed company of fireman tackling a massive forest blaze. Weird eh? Anyway.

In June 2013 a wildfire started in Yarnell, Arizona. 2 days later it had grown to over 8000 acres in size and nearly 400 firefighters tried to control it to no avail. Over the next few days it became one of the worst wild fires in U.S. history both in terms of size and lives lost. This film is the story of a group of men who fought the fire at the front lines, The Granite Mountain Hotshots.

It's not a very good tribute to them though. Parts of it are alright in a chest thumping MURICA! kind of way. It's a film Donald Trump will love.... Jesus I'm damning it with faint praise here aren't I. The actual firefighting scenes are superb. Properly intense and intimidating and convey well just what the stakes were these men were facing. The scale of destruction is pretty staggering and its good to see a lot of practical effects being used too. Of there's there's a lot of CGI used too but it all fits together well. You can nearly feel the heat wafting off the screen at you. But to get there you have to sit through interminable scenes ( the film is 130 minutes long ) of family strife and team bonding as the team work together to make themselves into a cohesive unit. I get it, it's for the audience to make a connection with the characters and so we'll care about them when danger strikes. But it just goes on so long it saps the energy from the film. Even the starry cast can only carry your interest for so long. Plus its numbingly predictable. Yes it's a true story but you can tell who's cards are marked from the get go. 

Josh Brolin as captain Eric Marsh and Jeff Briges as Chief Stenbrink are good though. Two old pro's who add a touch of class to proceedings. But the best role goes to Miles Teller as Brendan McDonough, a troubled young man who gets his life back on track by becoming a fireman and gaining a sense of purpose. Teller is on a great run lately. Whiplash, Let it Bleed and now his role in this. He's far too good for this film TBH. Taylor Kitsch and James Badge Dale do well as two other members of the team. On the homefront we get Jennifer Connelly and especially Andie McDowell utterly wasted as the dutifully loving wives. McDowells part is so small they might as well have just cut it from the film. 

I feel bad saying this because its a true story and real lives were lost but there's nothing here to make you care. It's late in the year release is cynically aimed at Oscar season too but there's nothing here that's going to win awards. It's corny and sentimental and full of dialogue like "You’ll find sympathy in the dictionary between shit and syphillis" a line no real person in the history of earth has every said. As a tribute to real people it's lacking.

The acting is good and the fires are intense but it's let down by everything else. It's a film that will be forgotten by this time next year.

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