A movie that features a smokejumper, Those Who Wish Me Dead, premiered today on HBO Max.
We asked Smokejumper Bro who appears frequently in the Wildfire Today comments sections if he would write a review of the movie. It is below. After that are a few comments from Bill about the movie.
Those Who Wish Me Dead is a film about Hannah (Angelina Jolie), a smokejumper trying to piece her life back together after tragedy strikes on a fire the year before. She is floundering through life until a family who knew too much is on the run from hitmen. Their paths cross on the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana, and as one family’s life is being ripped apart, Hannah finds a new purpose and a reason to start living again.
This movie is a great addition to the wildfire canon that has been produced in Hollywood recently. It feels more like a big-budget thriller with A-list actors than a streaming steamer. Of course, the fire behavior is a little dramatic, the goggles are comical, and maybe the HALO Smokejumping operations are a bit much, but when a smokejumper faceplants on landing, it brought it back home for me. Overall, it doesn’t take too large of a leap to make the movie feel realistic, even for firefighters.
Angelina Jolie gives a great performance, and she really fits the smokejumper role. She’s kind of crazy and wild, yet professional and dialed-in when needed. When it really matters, people are lucky to have her around.
Jon Bernthal (Walking Dead) is excellent as a local sheriff’s deputy and Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones) is perfect in his role as the not-entirely-emotionless assassin.
What really sets this film apart from other wildland firefighter films is Hannah’s story. She’s suffering a mental health crisis from PTSD developed on the job. Without treatment, she pursues dangerous, risky behavior that is all too common amongst our colleagues. Death-defying stunts and alcoholism, coupled with the US Forest Service ignoring and isolating her during her crisis really makes this movie the most realistic, and even brought me to shed a few tears in my early morning viewing. It may not have been intentional, but the movie is more about mental health than anything else, and the need to address it.
I’d say it’s my favorite fictional wildfire film. Definitely worth putting the phone down and watching the film.
Smokejumper Bro Rating **** 4/5
(end of review)
Excellent review by Smokejumper Bro!
Firefighters, of course, will be able to nitpick about things like fire behavior and the use of breathing apparatus, and they might laugh at a lighthearted moment about MREs.
I agree with Bro — Ms. Jolie is a very good actor and pulled it off. I could almost visualize her as a smokejumper. Almost.
The credits included the fact that it was filmed in New Mexico, the same state where much of “Only the Brave” was made.
It is very difficult for movie makers to make wildfire flames look realistic, and that is apparently one of the reasons why they had about 40 Visual Effects Artists assigned to the project.
The film is entertaining and worth seeing.