SOMETIMES you have to fight fire with fire and that’s exactly what the real-life figures of this fairly standard issue but nevertheless respectful hero drama did.

They are the Prescott Fire Department, a group of elite firefighters whose job it is to anticipate the path of forest wildfires and cut them off before the fire can inflict its full damage.

In 2007 the Arizona-based group embarked on an ambitious series of missions, led and supervised by Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin), to achieve their premium “Hotshot” classification that would label them the best.

To do this Eric needs his elite crew to go through the rigorous training required, including taking on erratic but ambitious and capable Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller), a parolee and recovering drug addict. Their journey leads to the fighting of the Yarnell Hill Fire, one of the most dangerous wildfires in modern American history.

It’s a harrowing story that if it weren’t true might seem machine-built for a Hollywood disaster movie. It’s well acted and efficiently made, with director Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy, Oblivion) striking a tone of respect and awe. There’s also some enjoyable buddy interplay between the characters that makes you believe in their wisecracking camaraderie.

But it’s also a film that stays quite firmly in workmanlike, occasionally quite clichéd mode rather than anything which truly takes your breath away. It interjects the “hanging out” chit-chat, in-depth training exercises and full-on firefighting scenarios with at-home melodrama that seeks to humanise but merely distracts, leaving Jennifer Connelly particularly short-changed in a pretty thankless role as Brolin’s wife.