I went to this movie knowing it was based on a true story, but not knowing that true story. Part of me wishes I had known, as I would have been more emotionally prepared for the end. But the other part of me is grateful I was able to truly experience the movie as it unfolded, as raw and painful and heartbreaking as it was.
I firmly believe Miles Teller is one of the greatest actors of this generation. Every time I see him in something I truly see the character he embodies, I don't just see "Miles Teller as this person", I see a whole new person. In this movie his character was down and out, then given a chance to be a part of something greater than himself as a part of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. I was drawn in to watching him grow as a person, forge a bond with his fire fighting brothers, and be mentored by the leader, a man with a dark past of his own, played by Josh Brolin.
I found myself invested in these men, their families, their bravery as they fought fire after fire, saving lives and protecting homes. Throughout, I knew something bad was going to happen, after all usually movies aren't made about firefighters who successfully fight every fire where nothing dramatic ever occurs. The longer the movie went on, the more the tension grew, the more I fell in love with the characters, the more I knew the ultimate tragedy would affect me.
When it finally struck, I was in disbelief and denial, then ultimately crushed. Knowing it is a true story made it all that more painful to see the loss and grief on the faces of the families and loved ones. This movie was extremely well done - well acted, well portrayed, and well deserving of the heroes of the Granite Mountain Hotshots team. May we never forget their story.