This film is based on true events that tell the story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. There is a massive fire in Cave Creek, 40 miles from Phoenix, Arizona and Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin) a fire fighter trainee and his crew is on the job along with a seasoned California fire crew. Even though Marsh has been a fighter for 4 years, not being certified other crews look down on him and his men. His wife Amanda (Jennifer Connelly) finds it difficult to share her husband with a fire as does most of the wives but Prescott needs their own certified Seal fire team and Marsh along with his buddy Duane Steinbrink (Jeff Bridges) will stop at nothing until they are no longer considered trainees.
Brendon McDonough (Miles Teller) was a bit of a loser, no actually he was a loser, on drugs , no job, a thief with a record and last but not least he got his girlfriend pregnant. It wasn’t until he saw his baby in the hospital the day she was born did he decide to change his life. When the Prescott fire team decided to add a few men to its team Marsh believed in Brendon and brought him on board. Marsh’s Captain Jesse Steed (James Badge Dale) along with a few other team members were uncertain if it were a good idea since Brendon was known as a trouble maker.
Thanks to Duane and the town Mayor, Marsh and his team were up for evaluation and if they passed the test fighting the Horse Shoe 2 fire near Portal, Arizona the team would become certified. Things all went pretty smooth except for one incident with Marsh but soon thereafter they were no longer trainees. It’s not until the Dragon Fire that Brendon considers quitting the team to be at home more and spend time with his daughter. Marsh and Brendon find out that they have several things in common but it’s not until the Yarnell fire 30 miles southwest of Prescott does life for Marsh, Brendon and the Granite Mountain Hotshots and their families change forever.
The story is well written and directed with some good character development where needed but I felt it played out a bit too long. The team does fight fires in between other developing moments in the story but it’s not until the final fire does the story grab you by the heart. The film has a nice soundtrack with some beautiful cinematography and special effects but more so than the fires it is getting to know these brave men that make the film. I thought there were some cliché moments in the story with some of the focus too often on Brolin and Teller and not enough on some of the other members of which there are quite a few but overall this is a film worth seeing and a piece of history to remember since it was the biggest loss of fire fighter lives since 9/11. Brolin and Teller control most of the story along with Connelly and Bridges supporting them but the extended side stories about the other men help to make the film more interesting I only wish they incorporated them a bit more. As for animals used in the film there are a number of horses, some bee attacks and the bite of a rattle snake to contend with throughout the film as well.