True story disaster films have been doing rather well lately.
Films like Everest, and the Peter Berg trilogy of Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, and Patriots Day have been critical successes and highly praised by audiences.
Like Deepwater Horizon, this one explores a profession I know very little about. As I live in a country that, as far as I can remember, has never had a forest fire. However, in America, it can be fairly common in certain states. This film centers on a group within a fire department, whose primary function is to prevent wild fires from spreading.
If you had not told me who directed this, I would have instantly said this was another installment from Berg. Instead, it is from Joseph Kosinski. I don't mind him as a director. While his debut with Tron: Legacy lacked in a coherent story, it is fantastic from a technical standpoint. His only other directed feature was Oblivion. Despite this bringing nothing new to the sci-fi genre, it was a lot of fun and very well-executed.
This one can definitely feel at home with the rest of the aforementioned films, as this is a pretty good piece of work. The aspects that work are the similar ones that made the others highly memorable. That sense of brotherhood, a family connection, and strong teamwork that makes you really care for these characters.
As we get to know them, we are also experiencing the real danger of this profession, and as far as I could tell, it looked real. But if it is visual effects, then that is some impressive CGI.
The finale is very well-deserved. The development got us the investment to feel how the real people felt after those events.
It's quite an ensemble cast and they were all great. Josh Brolin is front and center and plays that commanding leader and father figure-esque character really well. Miles Teller plays the relatable character that is developed nicely and helped us, a viewer, understand the training required in this work.
Taylor Kitsch is becoming a regular in these types of films and was a great support. He plays really memorable characters, had good enough comedic relief, and felt genuine. Another performance I could fit into that category is James Badge Gale, who like Kitsch seems to be making quite a living with similar stories to this one.
Jennifer Connelly gave the film a nice balance of drama and her chemistry with Brolin gave the film its heart and passion.
While Jeff Bridges and Andie McDowell had little to contribute, they had enough execution of their star-power to make their appearance in this mean something.
There were moments of melodrama that slightly down-graded it. But there was reasoning it for those scenes to take place, and I was fine with them.
It was scenes like that that made me think it was as strong or effective as similar films that I mentioned earlier in this review, but it is still a welcomed addition to this genre that is having quite a surge in quality story-telling.
This movie did a lot of things right. What makes this film succeed is the strong character development and the camaraderie between our ensemble cast that keeps your investment in the story and makes quite a memorable experience. It gives you a great insight into the work and training that is required for a job like this and how it affects their personal lives.
But a fitting final thought on this is how inspiring it is. It shows you who the true heroes are around the world and it showed off the true dangers of this job and how scary wildfires can be.