What an odd coincidence that this film should be released directly after Santa Rosa, California was destroyed by a wildfire. Interestingly enough one of the topics of the film is the desire the Granite Mountain Hot Shots had to make sure they could save their town from a raging wildfire.


Director Joseph Kosinski ("Oblivion", "Tron: Legacy") gathers an interesting cast of talented actors to tell the mostly true story of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots, the only municipal-run wildfire group in the country. His principle characters are Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin) and Brenda McDonough (Mile Teller) - pretty much the mentor and the student.


The film opens with the Granite City team not yet certified to fight fires independently. They are relegated to back up and clearing brush while Prescott's Hot Shot team takes over.

With the backing of Duanne Steinbrink (Jeff Bridges) the get the city okay to try out of certification. At the same time a troublesome nary-do-well - Brendan - tries out for the team and, though most of the other firefighters object, Marsh hires him.


The majority of the film focuses on those interpersonal relationships as well as the relationships between Marsh and his wife (Jennifer Connelly), Steinbrink and his wife (Andie McDowell) and McDonough and his babies moma (Natalie Hall). This may or may not be true but it does get you involved with the team as they fight the fires.


Kosinski lingered a bit too long on those relationship scenes and the film drags out to over 133 minutes when it could have been edited down to under two hours. Those extra scenes would have served to broaden some of the other charaters roles.


The director does do a good job of taking the audience into the fires. Even desert brush fires like the final fire in the film can turn around and become lethal. This is what happened in Santa Rosa when the winds changed and pushed the fire quickly through the town.


Miles Teller has a good turn as he sets up the release of "Thank You For Your Service". Brolin and Bridges are more than adequate while the women tend to blend into the background.


Only the Brave" is a well done tribute to the Granite Mountain Hot Shots and all the other firefighters who climb into the mouth of a fire to try to vanquish it.   -- GEOFF BURTON