Only The Brave

There was absolutely no buzz about Joseph Kosinski’s 2017 film Only the Brave, which means now is the perfect time to discover the movie on Blu-ray. Because the fact is, Only the Brave is surprisingly good. I had feared this was going to be the type of lifeless working-class-hero movie that Mark Wahlberg tends to make. Instead, Only the Brave is a finely tuned, well-cast, often emotional drama about people risking their lives because it’s the only thing they know how to do.

Based on a true, tragic story, Josh Brolin plays the leader of an elite crew of firefighters – known as Hot Shots – who rush into huge, dangerous forest fires. While your ordinary firefighter may battle flames with water, the Hot Shots fight fire literally with fire, using controlled blazes. Needless to say, this is an extremely dangerous line of work.

Only the Brave unfolds with several narratives. One involves Brolin’s character and his addiction to the job and his strained relationship with his loving wife (Jennifer Connelly). Another involves a new member of the team, played by Miles Teller. Teller’s character starts off as a drug addict, but when he learns he’s going to be a father, he wants to turn his life around. The only job that will hire him are the Hot Shots.

While Only the Brave is close to what I’d call a great movie, it doesn’t quite get there. There are some story issues here and there – Connelly’s character is, sadly, underused. But ultimately, the film is much better than your standard “Based On A True Story” drama, and while audiences skipped Only the Brave in theaters, I hope they’ll give the movie a chance on home video.

Notable Special Features:

There are two Only the Brave deleted scenes: in one, Miles Teller gets blisters on his hands; in the other, Jeff Bridges places a phone call to Josh Brolin after Jennifer Connelly crashes her truck. Okay, I’ll admit it: neither of these are that interesting.

But beyond that, there are several featurettes about the making of the film. “Honoring the Heroes” has the cast and crew talking about remembering when they heard about the true story of the Hot Shots. Josh Brolin says it’s one of the most important stories he’s been involved with.

“Behind the Brotherhood” reveals how hard everyone involved with the film worked to be respectful to the legacy of the real people they were portraying. The real Brendan McDonough and Amanda Marsh, whom Teller and Connelly respectively play in the film, are on hand to talk about how unsure and nervous they were when they heard a movie was being made about their lives. Ultimately though, they came to realize how respectful everyone involved with the film was being in regards the story.

The “Boot Camp” featurette first discloses how detailed and complicated and dangerous the job of a Hot Shot firefighter is. Director Joseph Kosinski talks about how authenticity was important to the film, and how he had the cast put through a boot camp to train them to be as authentic as possible in portraying their firefighter characters.

Special Features Include:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Feature Audio Commentary with Director Joseph Kosinski and Josh Brolin
  • Featurettes:
    • “Honoring the Heroes: The True Stories”
    • “Behind the Brotherhood: The Characters”
    • “Boot Camp: Becoming a Hotshot”          
  • Dierks Bentley featuring S. Carey’s “Hold The Light” Music Video & Featurette



Rob Reiner’s LBJ was delayed a bit before being dumped into theaters, and it’s easy to see why. While Reiner has a fascinating subject in the flawed president that was Lyndon B. Johnson, his film is a strictly by-the-numbers biopic that reduces Johnson’s life down to a series of talking points.

Which is a shame, because the film features a rather fine lead performance from Woody Harrelson. Buried under unconvincing Halloween make-up, Harrelson still manages to create a real, flesh-and-blood character. While his Johnson is probably far removed from the real man, Harrelson still does a magnificent job with the material he has to work with.

LBJ mostly focuses on Johnson’s relationship with the Kennedys. While he was already a storied politician by the time he became Kennedy’s Vice President, most of Johnson’s life is completely ignored, and once he finally takes office after JFK’s assassination, the film breezes through his early, shaky days and then wraps things up with a few title cards.

Notable Special Features:

There are zero special features here, which is a bit amazing. While I can’t say I enjoyed the film, to have no features at all seems silly. At the very least, a digital copy of the movie should’ve been provided. What gives? At least put the effort in.


Also on Blu-ray this week: Roman J. Israel, Esq. In this exclusive Roman J. Israel, Esq clip, director Dan Gilroy talks about working on the film and working with star Denzel Washington. Denzel Washington is also on hand to talk about his character.

Roman J. Israel, Esq. Exclusive Clip

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