When making a film about real life people, it is easy for them to be put on a pedestal but what sets this one apart is that it never forgets who these people really were by focusing on the human element. They were real people with real problems. The film is about a close-knit group of firefighters and their rise to become one of the best firefighting teams in the country, known as “Hot Shots”. They were led by a man named Eric Marsh (Brolin) and his second-in-command Jesse Steed (James Badge Dale).
They’ve lived, worked, and played together for years, putting out fires as a “B” team of sorts. They were frustrated by their designation as they were forced to watch other hot shot teams battle fires on the front line. They wanted to be one of those teams but could never get the right certification for whatever reason. This was made more difficult due to team turnover which prompted them to look for some new recruits, including Brendan McDonough (Teller).
Marsh was a fan who loved his job, his team, and also his wife Amanda (Jennifer Connelly). He and Amanda had a complicated relationship where she supported his profession but it wasn’t always easy for her. She seldom got to see her husband when he was working and there was always a chance that he may not come back. McDonough was a screwup heading down a wrong path until he learned that he was to have a child. Looking for a chance to turn his life around, McDonough wanted to join the team. While it looked unlikely that he would fit in, Marsh saw something in him when no one else did and he ended up proving him right and all his doubters wrong.
The best part of the film was the camaraderie between the firefighters and their evolution as a team. Over their time together, through training and fighting various fires, the team grew closer to one another. They were so fun to watch and over this time, it became easy to become invested in these characters. The film did a great job in its depiction of the fires through its use of cinematography and sound design but ultimately, it was always more about the firefighters themselves. It gave us a great sense of what they had to contend with. Watching them was thrilling, more so because we care about them.
The performances were good across the board with Brolin and Connelly being the standouts. Brolin as Marsh was a great leader thanks to his imposing nature and screen presence. Connelly was just as great with Amanda’s inner struggle. They made for a believable relationship because of their chemistry together although it would’ve been nice to see their relationship explored a little more. Teller was good as McDonough but the role didn’t feel like much of a departure from his other dramatic roles. He and Taylor Kitsch as rivals turned friends had chemistry and were fun together. Bridges provided another solid performance as Marsh’s friend Duane Steinbrink.
Overall, this was a thrilling and well-acted drama, focusing on the human element of the true life story of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots made better by some fun camaraderie.More movie reviews at keithlovesmovies.com