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Real-life superheroes fight fire with fire

Monday November 13, 2017 Written by Published in Entertainment
A scene from the movie Only the Brave, now screening at Empire Cinema. 17111005 A scene from the movie Only the Brave, now screening at Empire Cinema. 17111005

This week sees the release of a new superhero team-up movie, Only the Brave.


No, these superheroes aren’t as recognisable as the Avengers or the Justice League, and that’s sort of the point.

They are real-life heroes, Real Men, even if they do all look like the Zoolander version of firefighters.

And they are facing the deadliest threat known to an American man – the establishment (and fire).

The film follows a particular group within the Prescott (Arizona, USA) Fire Department who are a “type two” crew, known as deuces.

While they are firefighters, their role is to prevent wildfire spreading to small towns and communities, so they construct fire lines that clear an area of flammable material, and sometimes they literally fight fire with fire.

But ultimately, as they are the deuces, their decisions, even if they are the right ones, get overruled by the elite crew known as the “hotshots”.

The leader of the deuces Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin) dreams of taking his crew to that hotshot level, and will seemingly sacrifice anything to achieve it.

Marsh is a traditional hard man, who does most of his talking through his actions, but his interactions with his wife Amanda (Jennifer Connelly) provide a character depth that is unusual for the stock male character.

The crew also provides a colourful crew that the audience can engage with.

While most of them are unnamed, they become recognisable through their family or their humour, with Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller) or “Donut” being the standout.

Living the latter of the “get busy living or get busy dying” mantra, McDonough is a deadbeat drug user who decides to turn his life around once his daughter is born.

Suddenly, his life isn’t just a throwaway because he is somebody, and his life finally has purpose.

One of the best things that this movie does is foster the sense of family.

Many other movies may talk about family but don’t necessary execute, but this does an excellent job of bringing you into the fold and feeling like you are a fly on the wall.

And just like a family, it has joy, laughter and a sense of belonging, as well as hardship and heartbreak.

It also could have sanitised the story, as it is based on real events, by making the characters’ one-dimensional All-American legends.

And while it does occasionally drum up the hero narrative, it does show that they are still human, especially with Marsh and McDonough.

You might like this movie if you do enjoy a “superhero” movie that is concerned with the characters and their lives, and how the action directly impacts that, as opposed to two indestructible beings punching each other.

This movie is a slow burn (apologies) as it takes time to introduce the characters and the stakes, so you’ll find it incredibly boring if you prefer a microwave movie.

It also turns in fantastic performances from the entire case, which also includes Academy Award winners Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Connelly.

Only the Brave won’t make you jump out of your seat, but it will make you care.

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