Critic Reviews



Based on 35 critic reviews provided by
Village Voice
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.
It’s a gripping and powerfully emotional portrait of yee-haw heroism, pitting a squad of cocky, calendar-purty white dudes against an adversary with no creed or color, just an unquenchable appetite for destruction.
It’s a straightforward celebration of these heroes’ lives, with a few meaningful revelations along the way, but nothing that will completely blow your mind. These are interesting, likable people who led interesting, exciting lives.
Because of its cast of young men being buff and hormonal and good at their jobs, one could say that Only the Brave is the Top Gun of firefighter movies, the difference being that the new film feels like it's embedded in reality rather than in an aerial wet dream.
Kosinski settles for a simplistic ending, and the film can’t avoid certain narrative predictability, but for all its conventionality, it’s also brave enough to push against those conventions to find the humanity within its heroes.
As the story builds, these characters become richer and more complicated — and the stakes become more deadly — resulting in a movie with a delayed but no less potent dramatic punch.
The movie is so cautious about avoiding disaster movie tropes that you can practically sense the resistance to arriving at the tragic finale. The result is a tasteful, well-acted bore, but so out of sync with traditional studio filmmaking it deserves some kudos anyway.
There is a sincere effort to get beneath the facade of what an extremely fit twentysomething firefighter’s life is like. There’s even a possibility that the film’s first act is intentionally distancing so that the later scenes will have a bigger payoff.
Despite the looming threats on display, Kosinski never imbues his movie with a real sense of danger until it’s too late to take the threat seriously. For all of the movie’s flare, Only the Brave lacks dynamism.
So squarely old-fashioned that it’s a little jarring to notice that many of the characters have smartphones.

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