Unfortunately, this whole saga is a pedestrian assemblage of everything you’d expect – the rookie gets joshed, his first fire’s scary, his wife worries, he fears for his kids – intercut with the sort of synthetic guy-type bonhomie which looks like it might turn into a beer commercial at any moment. It’s not brazenly exploitative, but the filmmakers know the bottom line: the audience isn’t going to turn up for a firefighting flick without a few choice moments of flame-grilled carnage. They at least try to be discreet about it.
Phoenix, the stand-out turn, goes easy on the grandstanding, delivering instead an ordinary guy for whom heroism is a matter of professional focus on his training. The resolution seeks to pay tribute to his real-life counterparts, but a better, less superficial movie would surely have benefited all concerned.