Only the Brave (2017 film)
|Only the Brave|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joseph Kosinski|
|Based on||GQ article "No Exit"|
by Sean Flynn
|Music by||Joseph Trapanese|
|Edited by||Billy Fox|
|Box office||$26.3 million|
Only the Brave is a 2017 American biographical drama film directed by Joseph Kosinski, and written by Ken Nolan and Eric Warren Singer, based on the GQ article "No Exit" by Sean Flynn. The film tells the story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite crew of firefighters from Prescott, Arizona who lost 19 of 20 members while fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire in June 2013, and is dedicated to their memory. It features an ensemble cast, including Josh Brolin, James Badge Dale, Jeff Bridges, Miles Teller, Alex Russell, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Hardy, Thad Luckinbill, Geoff Stults, Scott Haze, Andie MacDowell, and Jennifer Connelly.
Principal photography began in New Mexico in June 2016. Only the Brave was released by Columbia Pictures in North America and by Summit Entertainment in other territories on October 20, 2017. The film was a box-office bomb, grossing just $26.3 million worldwide against a $38 million budget. However, it received positive reviews, with praise for the cast and the film's touching tribute to its subjects. The film is dedicated to the Granite Mountain Hotshots and their families.
Eric Marsh, superintendent of Fire and Rescue Crew 7 in Prescott, Arizona, receives a call to a wildfire. Due to Crew 7's status as municipal firefighters, Eric's prediction that the fire will threaten a nearby neighborhood is ignored by a hotshot crew from California. The fire behaves as Eric anticipated, and the neighborhood is destroyed.
Eric's wife Amanda suggests that he should talk to Duane Steinbrink, the town's fire chief, to complete Crew 7's certification as wildfire hotshots. Duane warns that the crew will now have to commit to a longer working season. This frustrates Amanda, who resents how the time commitment already keeps Eric from wanting to start a family.
Brendan McDonough is unemployed, listless, and abuses drugs. His ex-girlfriend Natalie is pregnant with his baby, but she feels that he is too irresponsible to be in her life. When he is arrested for larceny, his mother kicks him out of the house. When his daughter is born, he wants to provide for her, so he interviews with Eric, who hires him despite the reservations of some of the crew.
The crew trains hard and is finally deployed to a wildfire for evaluation. They pass and become the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Natalie begins to accept Brendan and lets him spend time with their daughter.
The crew fights several fires, including saving a historic juniper tree, but Brendan is bitten by a rattlesnake while walking a fire line. While he recovers in the hospital, his mother suggests that Brendan should reconsider his career for his daughter's sake. Brendan later approaches Eric about transferring to a different station within the department, joining a structural firefighting crew. Eric snaps, suggesting that Brendan’s criminal past makes a transfer nearly impossible, and that he will return to drugs without the purpose being a hotshot provides.
Eric and Amanda argue about Eric's attitude towards Brendan's sense of priorities, and his reluctance to start a family. Eric has a heartfelt talk with Duane, apologizes to Brendan and then returns home and tells Amanda he's ready to start a family.
The Granite Mountain Hotshots are called to the next wildfire, thirty miles from Prescott. Traveling to the area, Eric tells his second-in-command Jesse that he will be stepping down and will appoint Jesse as the superintendent in the near future. Walking into the fire zone, Eric tells Brendan that he will help him secure a transfer so that he can spend more time with his family.
The crew begins a counterattack to contain the fire, but an air tanker mistakes it for a secondary fire, and extinguishes it. The crew now has to relocate, so Eric sends Brendan to higher ground as a lookout. When the wind suddenly intensifies and shifts, Brendan is rescued by another hotshot crew, and they evacuate to the mobile fire headquarters. The rest of the Granite Mountain Hotshots head to a designated safe zone after realizing that the fast-moving fire is too intense to go up against.
The fire picks up speed and jumps the safe zone, continuing towards the Granite Mountain Hotshots and cutting off their escape route. The crew clears a small site, and Eric calls in an air tanker to douse the rapidly advancing fire front. The tanker misses the crew, and they deploy their compact personal fire shelters. As the fire sweeps over the crew, multiple radio calls go unanswered. Brendan hears the radio call from the first helicopter to reach the site: all 19 crew members are confirmed perished.
The devastated families of the hotshots gather at Prescott Middle School, where they hear reports of a lone survivor of the twenty firefighters. Brendan insists that he should be taken to the school and enters the gymnasium. Upon seeing Brendan, knowing that he was one of the hotshots, they realize that he is the only one who survived, and that their loved ones have perished. As they grieve, Brendan storms out of the gym and has a psychological breakdown, where Amanda consoles him, all the while Brendan saying that he should’ve died alongside them.
Three years later, Brendan takes his daughter to the juniper tree that was saved by the crew. During the credits, photos are shown of the actual Granite Mountain Hotshots and their actor counterparts.
- Josh Brolin as Eric Marsh
- Miles Teller as Brendan McDonough
- Jeff Bridges as Duane Steinbrink
- Jennifer Connelly as Amanda Marsh
- Andie MacDowell as Marvel Steinbrink
- Alex Russell as Andrew Ashcraft
- Dylan Kenin as Robert Caldwell
- Scott Foxx as Travis Carter
- Ryan Busch as Dustin DeFord
- Taylor Kitsch as Christopher MacKenzie
- Sam Quinn as Grant McKee
- Kenny Miller as Sean Misner
- Thad Luckinbill as Scott Norris
- Ben Hardy as Wade Parker
- Nicholas Jenks as John Percin Jr.
- Jake Picking as Anthony Rose
- James Badge Dale as Jesse Steed
- Matthew Van Wettering as Joe Thurston
- Geoff Stults as Travis Turbyfill
- Ryan Jason Cook as William Warneke
- Scott Haze as Clayton Whitted
- Michael McNulty as Kevin Woyjeck
- Brandon Bunch as Garret Zuppiger
- Brytnee Ratledge as Juliann Ashcraft
- Pell James as Claire Caldwell
- Natalie Hall as Natalie Johnson
- Jenny Gabrielle as Desiree Steed
- Barbie Robertson as Marsena Thurston
- Jade Kammerman as Stephanie Turbyfill
- Howard Ferguson Jr. as Brian Ferguson
- Rachel Singer as Brendan's mother
- Ralph Alderman as Evaluator Hayes
On March 1, 2016, Josh Brolin and Miles Teller joined the cast of the film. Jeff Bridges and Taylor Kitsch later also joined the cast. The film was produced under the working title Granite Mountain. Principal photography on the film began in New Mexico on June 13, 2016. Filming took place at different locations in and around Santa Fe and Los Alamos.
Only the Brave, originally titled Granite Mountain, was released on October 20, 2017, by Sony Pictures Releasing under its Columbia Pictures label. Before that the film was set a release date for September 22, 2017, but a disagreement between Lionsgate and production company Black Label Media saw the U.S. distribution rights change to Columbia Pictures. Summit Entertainment will retain international rights in select countries for the film. The trailer came out on July 19, and the film was retitled Only the Brave. The film was released digitally on January 23, 2018, and on DVD and Blu-ray on February 6, 2018. As of December 2018, it had made $7.2 million in home video sales.
Only the Brave grossed $18.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $7.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $25.8 million, against a production budget of $38 million.
In the United States and Canada, Only the Brave was released alongside Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, The Snowman and Geostorm, and was expected to gross around $7 million from 2,575 theaters in its opening weekend. It made $305,000 from Thursday night previews and $2.1 million on its first day. It ended up debuting to $6 million, finishing 5th at the box office. In its second week the film dropped 42.5% to $3.4 million, finishing 7th.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 87% based on 160 reviews, with an average rating of 7.09/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Only the Brave's impressive veteran cast and affecting fact-based story add up to a no-frills drama that's just as stolidly powerful as the real-life heroes it honors." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 72 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Bilge Ebiri of Village Voice wrote, "Only the Brave is a visually splendid, spellbinding, and surreal movie that also happens to be an emotionally shattering, over-the-top ugly-cry for the ages." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter called the film "an engaging account of a tragic real-life story."
Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, saying: "The blending of practical effects and CGI is impressive, and we come to understand the risks these men are taking, but some of the techniques and approaches they take remain a mystery, up to and through the climactic fire. Not that we need a manual to understand these men were working-class, everyday heroes." Scott Menzel of We Live Entertainment also praised the film, saying, "Only the Brave is without question the best firefighter film since Backdraft and one that pays tribute to the brave men that sacrificed their own lives to protect thousands of others."
Richard Brody noted in The New Yorker that "Only the Brave ties the characters’ private lives to their work lives in a plethora of details, but it never looks beyond the work life into life at large, or even into the life that surrounds them in their own home town." Brody described the film as a missed opportunity to depict those who battled local politicians to secure benefits for survivors of the Yarnell Hill Fire and the widows of the deceased Hotshots. The review quoted Fernanda Santos in The New York Times who wrote that "Juliann Ashcraft decided to leave Prescott altogether to spare her four children the discomfort of whispers and glares" — a reference to the harassment of women who challenged the decision to treat victims differently based on their employment status.
|List of awards and nominations|
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipients||Result||Ref.|
|Visual Effects Society Awards||February 13, 2018||Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature||Eric Barba, Dione Wood, Matthew Lane, Georg Kaltenbrunner, Michael Meinardus||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature||Georg Kaltenbrunner, Thomas Bevan, Philipp Zaufel, Himanshu Joshi for "Fire and Smoke"||Nominated|
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