Among all the hero movies that are sweeping our screens, is a tale of super human strength in the face of blazing adversity. Director Joseph Kosinski ventures into new natural territory, his previous repertoire including the CGi laden Tron: Legacy. He’s been spoiled with a stellar cast including Miles Teller, Josh Brolin, James Badge Dale, Taylor Kitsch, Andie MacDowell and Jennifer Connelly. Each element works in unison to bring together the story of the perilous Yarnell Hill Fire, a wildfire in Yarnell, Arizona in June 2013.
Miles Teller is no stranger to delinquent movies, yet his surliness and subversive style is balanced with a genuine portrayal of an initially deadbeat father determined to give his daughter a better life than his own. His rigorous training routine led by gruffy Marsh (Josh Brolin) is as human as it is humourous, egged on by the playful banter and mischievous antics of the team led by The Pacifc’s James Badge Dale.
Fires abound, but the most beautiful cenery comes from the pictesque Utah scenery and the honky tonk bars that resemble something out of Footloose. The mark that the heroes have on the town is memorable, but more poignant is the hard fought battle to be recognised and make their way to the frontline. It’s reminiscent of a football team, banding together ‘Remember the Titans,’ with similar themes of loss and underappreciation.
Not capitalising entirely on heartstring pulling, there’s enough humour to extinguish any sappy residue. We’re told by Marsh that the only time the recruits will find sympathy “is between shit and syphillis, and in a line that resembles the “everyone pretend to be normal” tagline of Little Miss Sunshine is the advice during one impressionable mission to “at least act like you’ve done this before.”Courageous as these men are, the knowledge that it’s based on a true story is a spoiler in some way, but this does not deprive the story of its lifeblood.
Packs a lot of heat, and is a fitting tribute to real heroes who remind you why you go to the movies.