Only the Brave (2017 film)

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Only the Brave
Only the Brave (2017 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joseph Kosinski[1]
Produced by
Written by
Based on GQ article No Exit
by Sean Flynn
Music by Joseph Trapanese
Cinematography Claudio Miranda
Edited by Billy Fox
Distributed by
Release date
  • October 8, 2017 (2017-10-08) (Los Angeles)
  • October 20, 2017 (2017-10-20) (United States)
Running time
133 minutes[3]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $38 million[4]
Box office $25.4 million[4]

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,[1] an elite crew of firefighters 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 in the United States by Columbia Pictures on October 20, 2017. It received positive reviews from critics, with praise aimed at the cast and the film's touching tribute to its subjects.[5]


Eric "Supe" Marsh, the superintendent of the Prescott Fire and Rescue Crew 7 in Prescott, Arizona, receives a call to assist in the Cave Creek Complex fire north of Phoenix. Due to Crew 7's status as type 2, Eric's careful observation of the fire and his prediction that it will change direction and threaten a nearby neighborhood is ignored by a hot shot crew from California that arrives and takes command. The fire behaves as Marsh anticipated and the neighborhood is destroyed. Eric's wife Amanda suggests he talk to Duane Steinbrink, the city's fire chief, to complete his crew's certification and become hotshots. Duane agrees to set up an evaluation for Crew 7 to obtain their certification, but warns that the crew will likely have to commit to a longer working season in order to make their certification more attractive to the city council. This frustrates Amanda, who resents the already-high amount of focus Eric places on fighting fires, and wants to start a family with her husband.

Meanwhile, Brendan McDonough is unemployed, lives at home, and uses drugs recreationally. He finds out from a friend that his ex-girlfriend Natalie is pregnant and that the baby is his. He confronts her about hiding the pregnancy, but due to his irresponsible lifestyle, she tells him to leave her and the baby alone. Afterward, Brendan is thrown out of a bar and gets arrested for larceny when stealing out of a parked car. After posting his bail, Brendan's mother kicks him out of the house. Brendan's daughter McKayla is born, but he is still kept at arm's length by Natalie. Wanting to provide for his daughter, he interviews for a job with Crew 7 and is hired despite the reservations of some of the crew. Brendan begins buying groceries and leaving them on the doorstep of Natalie's house.

During training, a wildfire breaks out and Crew 7's evaluation is scheduled. Despite the presence of rookies on the team and a clash of opinion between Eric and the crew's evaluator, Crew 7 passes and becomes the Granite Mountain Hot Shots. Natalie begins to open up to Brendan and agrees to let him spend time with their daughter.

The crew successfully fights several fires, including saving a historic juniper tree, but Brendan is bitten by a rattlesnake while walking the fire line. He is taken to the hospital for treatment but declines the recommended painkillers to avoid a potential relapse. Brendan's roommate and fellow hot shot Chris MacKenzie visits him in the hospital. He is immediately attracted to Brendan's nurse and they begin a relationship. Natalie, McKayla, and Brendan's mother also visit, the latter of whom suggests that Brendan reconsider his career for his daughter's sake. While out with the crew celebrating their recent success, Brendan approaches Eric about transferring to a structure fire crew, angering Eric. He reminds Brendan that his criminal past makes a transfer unlikely if not outright impossible, and he will likely relapse without the sense of purpose being a hot shot provides.

On the way home, Eric and Amanda argue about Eric's attitude about Brendan's sense of priorities and his own reluctance to start a family. Eric gets out of the car and walks to Duane's house where Eric tells Duane about an experience he had fighting a fire in Montana. Eric describes his memory of a bear that ran past him on fire, calling it "the most beautiful and terrible thing I've ever seen." Afterwards, he returns home and tells Amanda he's ready to start a family. Eric's fears about Brendan are also shown to come from the fact that he shares a similar past and the job saved him from it as well.

The next morning, Eric receives a call about a fire in Yarnell. He calls in the crew and, on the way to the fire, tells his second-in-command Jesse Steed that he will be stepping down as superintendent at the end of the fire season and that Jesse can have the job if he wants it. The crew deploys to protect Yarnell from the fire, and Eric tells Brendan that he will help him secure a transfer so he can spend more time with his family. The crew begins a controlled burn to contain the fire, but an air tanker mistakes the burn for a secondary fire and extinguishes it. The crew is forced to relocate and make a new fire line, and Brendan is sent to higher ground to serve as a weather lookout. The wind shifts and picks up speed, sending the fire toward Brendan and the crew. Brendan evacuates with the help of another hot shot crew member who gives him a ride to the staging area, and Brendan drives one of their vehicles back to the mobile fire headquarters. The rest of the crew begin to make their way to their designated safe zone.

The fire picks up speed and overtakes the safe zone before the crew can reach it. As Brendan listens on the radio, the hot shots prepare a deployment site and call in an air tanker to cover their position. The tanker overflies the crew, and they deploy their fire shelters. The fire then overtakes the hot shots. Multiple radio calls go out to the Granite Mountain crew. There is no response.

Brendan hears the radio call when the deployment site is discovered and it is confirmed that there are no survivors. The families of the fallen hot shots gather at a local school gymnasium, and word gets out amongst the families that one crew member survived, but they are not told who. Brendan demands to go to the gymnasium and enters to see the families in despair once they realize that Brendan is the lone survivor and their loved ones are dead. Brendan, suffering from survivor's guilt, collapses outside. Amanda follows him and tells him that she is glad he's alive.

Later, Brendan takes his daughter to the juniper tree that was saved by the crew earlier and remembers his fellow hot shots. During the credits, a tribute is made to the actual Granite Mountain Hot Shots.


The Granite Mountain Hotshots
  • Josh Brolin as Eric "Supe" Marsh, Amanda’s husband
  • Miles Teller as Brendan "Donut" McDonough
  • James Badge Dale as Jesse Steed
  • Alex Russell as Andrew Ashcraft
  • Dylan Kenin as Robert Caldwell
  • Scott Foxx as Travis Carter
  • Ryan Busch as Dustin DeFord
  • Taylor Kitsch as Chris 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 "Baby-G" Rose
  • 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

  • Jeff Bridges as Duane Steinbrink, Marvel’s husband
  • Andie MacDowell as Marvel Steinbrink, Duane's wife
  • Jennifer Connelly as Amanda Marsh, Eric’s wife
  • Natalie Hall as Natalie Johnson
  • Rachel Singer as Mrs. McDonough, Brendan's mother
  • Brytnee Ratledge as Juliann Ashcraft
  • Pell James as Claire Caldwell
  • Jenny Gabrielle as Desiree Steed
  • Barbie Robertson as Marsena Thurston
  • Jade Kammerman as Stephanie Turbyfill


On March 1, 2016, Josh Brolin and Miles Teller joined the cast of the film.[6] Jeff Bridges and Taylor Kitsch later also joined the cast.[7] 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.[8][9][10]


Joseph Trapanese composed the film's score. Dierks Bentley released a single called "Hold The Light", featuring S. Carey. The single and the music video was released on October 6, 2017.[11]


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.[12] Summit Entertainment will retain international rights in select countries for the film.[13] The trailer came out on July 19, and the film was retitled Only the Brave.[14]

Home media[edit]

Only The Brave was released digitally on January 23, 2018, and on DVD and Blu-ray on February 6, 2018.


Box office[edit]

Only the Brave grossed $18.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $6.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $24.6 million, against a production budget of $38 million.[4]

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.[15] 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.[16] In its second week the film dropped 42.5% to $3.4 million, finishing 7th.[17]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 87% based on 141 reviews, with an average rating of 7/10. 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."[18] 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".[19] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[16]

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."[20] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter called the film "an engaging account of a tragic real-life story."[21]

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."[22] 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."[23]


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 [24]
Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature Georg Kaltenbrunner, Thomas Bevan, Philipp Zaufel, Himanshu Joshi for "Fire and Smoke" Nominated


  1. ^ a b Charliedavid Page (18 November 2017). "SWITCH. | Film review: Only The Brave - True story of tragedy handled with respect and authenticity". SWITCH. Retrieved 18 November 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c "Film releases". Variety Insight. Retrieved January 13, 2017. 
  3. ^ "Only The Brave (2017)". British Board of Film Classification. 
  4. ^ a b c "Only the Brave (2017)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 22, 2018. 
  5. ^ Giles, Jeff (October 19, 2017). "Only the Brave Is a Powerful Tribute". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 20, 2017. 
  6. ^ Kroll, Justin (March 1, 2016). "Josh Brolin and Miles Teller to Star in Firefighter Action Movie 'No Exit' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
  7. ^ Kroll, Justin (May 20, 2016). "Jeff Bridges, Taylor Kitsch Join Josh Brolin-Miles Teller Firefighter Film (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
  8. ^ Higdon, Marissa (June 10, 2016). ""Granite Mountain" starring Josh Brolin tells the story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots - Albuquerque Business First". Albuquerque Business First. Retrieved June 12, 2016. 
  9. ^ Goodykoontz, Bill (June 9, 2016). "'Granite Mountain,' movie version of fallen Yarnell firefighters' story, to begin production". AZCentral. Retrieved June 12, 2016. 
  10. ^ ""Granite Mountain" to Film in New Mexico". June 10, 2016. Retrieved June 12, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Dierks Bentley ft. S. Carey Hold The Light (From "Only The Brave" Soundtrack) (Official Video)". Vevo. 
  12. ^ Pedersen, Erik (June 7, 2016). "Lionsgate Dates 'Granite Mountain', 'Wonder' & 'How To Be A Latin Lover' For 2017". Deadline. Retrieved June 8, 2016. 
  13. ^ McNary, Dave (April 24, 2017). "'Sicario' Sequel, 'Granite Mountain' Move From Lionsgate to Sony". Variety. Retrieved April 24, 2017. 
  14. ^ Goldberg, Matt (July 19, 2017). "'Only the Brave': First Trailer Has Josh Brolin Leading an Elite Team of Firefighters". Collider. Retrieved July 19, 2017. 
  15. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (October 18, 2017). "Boo 2!' To Shut Down Expensive 'Geostorm' In Crowded Weekend – Box Office Preview". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 18, 2017. 
  16. ^ a b Anthony D'Alessandro. "'Boo 2! A Madea Halloween' Reaps $21M+ During October Dumping Ground At The B.O." Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 22, 2017. 
  17. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro. "Horror Has Few Scares At B.O. As 'Jigsaw' Dulls To $16M+, 'Suburbicon' Condemned With D- CinemaScore". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 29, 2017. 
  18. ^ "Only the Brave (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 13, 2018. 
  19. ^ "Only the Brave reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved November 23, 2017. 
  20. ^ ""Only the Brave" Is One Big, Manly, Beautiful Ugly-Cry". Village Voice. October 11, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2017. 
  21. ^ "'Only the Brave': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. October 11, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2017. 
  22. ^ Roeper, Richard (October 18, 2017). "'Only the Brave' lays out the humanity of its firefighting heroes". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved October 20, 2017. 
  23. ^ "'Only The Brave' Review: Bravery Done Right". We Live Entertainment. October 11, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2017. 
  24. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (January 16, 2018). "Visual Effects Society Awards: 'Apes,' 'Blade Runner 2049' Lead Feature Nominees". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 16, 2018. 

External links[edit]