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Courageous Reviews

Page 1 of 119
Everett J

Super Reviewer

July 20, 2012
From the makers of "Fire Proof" comes this movie about four cops reconnecting with their faith in hopes of building a better relationship with their children and with God. It's a pretty religious movie, that never goes overboard(although some of things that they do is pretty borderline). These movies are usually lower budget and the acting isn't the greatest. But here, you can tell they are getting better at making good, quality movies that still get the message across. The acting isn't the best, as it's filled with unknowns. But you still get engaged with the characters and their struggles, especially with a shootout towards the end(I was on the edge, I cannot lie). At over 2 hours long, the movie drags in spots, and really could have been about 30 minutes shorter. However, it's an important movie to see that gives you perspective on being a good model parent(I'm no saint, and the movie made me want to be a better Dad). I think everyone should watch this, even if your not religious. If you take the religious overtones out of this, it will still make you want to be there for your children more. Good watch with a good message.

Super Reviewer

March 10, 2012
Last fall, Courageous opened to sellout crowds, but unless you or your family is plugged in to Christian media, you probably missed it (you know a movie's got to be good when it has a quote from former football coach Tony Dungy). This is the latest film from the Kendrick brothers, a pair of pastors that started their own production company and have been making low-budget Christian-themed dramas that score big profits. What they really create, in my estimation, are two-hour film components to go along with a readymade Bible study/lesson package (and you bet you can purchase your own Courageous companion book). As you'd expect, from an objective standpoint, these films, intended for a select audience of the converted, aren't paragons of film artistry. And the Kendrick brothers' last movie, 2008's Kirk Cameron vehicle Fireproof, was awful on just about every level of filmmaking. Courageous is a better film on every front, but "better" and "good" are not interchangeable descriptions.

In the small town of Albany, Georgia, a group of police officers have al come to a personal crossroads concerning fatherhood. Adam (Alex Kendrick, director and co-writer) has recently lost his 11-year-old daughter in a tragic car accident. Nathan (Ken Bevel) is trying to come to terms to forgive the absent father he never knew. He also has to protect his teen daughter from going out with a young boy who happens to be part of a gang. David (Ben Davies) is the rookie in the group with a shameful secret of his own, namely that he has a small daughter he abandoned with her mother. Javier (Robert Amaya) is struggling to find a stable job to support his wife and children. His wife fears they'll have no choice but to go back to their home country. Shane (Kevin Downes) is feeling the pressures of the job as well and making bad decisions that will catch up with him. The five gentlemen decide to make a public pledge and sign a written contract promising to be involved, loving, and responsible fathers for their families. But saying it and doing it is another matter.

As with most of the Christian-funded filmic efforts, the movie is secondary to the message. Unlike Fireproof, the filmmakers package their wholesome message in a far more easily digestible package. There are moments in the movie that work really well and ring true, mostly the struggle of overcoming grief at the loss of a child. Adam is told that losing a child has been compared to losing a limb (look out if you lose a limb and a child). It's not going to give Rabbit Hole a run for its money as far as psychological implications, but there are glimpses that feel like genuine and powerful drama. Whether Adam performing a dance with the memory of his deceased daughter is corny or emotional is up to you. Unfortunately, given the scattershot nature of the story, these moments only stay as moments, fleeting in their impact. But I was wholly surprised to even have anything genuine after the ridiculousness of Fireproof. Kendrick has improved as a filmmaker and his grasp on characterization is sharper; there are some nice moments of wry humor like when Adam keeps accidentally telling his chief he "loves him" (those declarations were intended for his wife on the other phone line). There's an amusing bit akin to a "who's on first?" routine as Adam mistakenly thinks Javier is another Javier he hired for some construction work. The struggle of an immigrant family hovering above the poverty line is a welcome storyline to a pretty middle-class point of view that dominates the story. I don't know if the Javier character completely works in the context of this story, but he's an amiable presence as he becomes an adopted member into the boys' club. The opening even has a rather exciting flash of action with Nathan holding onto his carjacker from outside the speeding vehicle. There's a foot chase that is crisply edited and filmed with a bit more flair than is normally accustomed to with these movies. It's something of a small miracle that Courageous seems to exist in a modestly recognizable universe.

While being easily the best movie yet to bear the Kendrick name, Courageous still has enough faults to limit its execution, likely only reaching those already converted to its Christian values. Subtlety is rarely a tactic employed in Kendrick's wheelhouse. As a result, everything can become rather ham-handed and message-laden. There are far too many different elements that just don't jibe together to form a cohesive whole; the movie feels like a series of anecdotes that occasionally collide together. The narrative is stuffed with the death of a child, the struggle of immigrant workers to find a foothold, parental abandonment and reconciliation, gang recruitment, and police corruption (if you're going to steal drugs from the evidence room, at least replace the weight value). They could have easily lost one of these guys from the plot, particularly the corrupt cop. There's too much going on for real narrative momentum to get going. Structurally, most of the movies conflicts are resolved before we even get into the meat of Act Three, leaving the movie to finish with a hasty shootout with gang members that feels arbitrary. I suppose the Kendrick brothers might argue that the gang members represent the tragic results of boys raised without strong paternal role models, but that's a rather simplified implication. And why does no one indignantly reject the idea that the death of a little girl was meant to propser greater goodness in the world? I would imagine a grieving parent, no matter their closeness with God, would feel some modicum of anger at the idea that their daughter needed to die for them to be a better person. Kendrick is not nearly a strong enough actor to sell the various ups and down his lead character endures.

But the biggest problem I have with the movie is that it posits that "Christian values" and "ethics" are synonymous. I have no beef with any religious belief that people rely upon to choose to be better, more caring, conscientious, and active people. However, I bristle with the notion that ONLY religion can give people the tools to achieve these ethical realizations. The group of characters sits around a barbeque and talk about religion, parenting, their own negligent fathers, but they present religion, and specifically Christianity, as the only solution to being a better person. I would argue that mankind can realize moral good and hold to a code ethics without the direct tutelage of Christianity. If this was the case, would this logical argument not suggest that portions of the world that favor other religions are wayward in any sense of moral reasoning and value? What about before Christianity came into being, all that B.C. part of the timeline? Surely Jews would kvetch that they didn't need Christianity to adhere to a moral order.

The movie's patriarchal insistence that men are the only guardians of their family seems ignorant. The women presented in Courageous are pretty much the doting types who wrap their arms around their husbands and remind them what good Godly men that are. The movie puts all the pressure onto the men, somehow missing the point that women can and should be a contributing force when it comes to rearing a family. While the Kendricks have plenty of statistics at hand about the significance of a father, the movie tacitly paints a portrait that a family is doomed when it falls under the complete stewardship of a mother. I'm not going to rip open a feminist rant because I don't find anything in Courageous to be insidious or malicious, though its depiction of black gang members seems a bit sketchy. I just think the overemphasis on spurring men into taking responsibility doesn't need to be at the expense of women giving up something. Parenting should be a shared responsibility and not something tagged to whomever holds the title of head of household. And as presented, the movie gives the fathers questionable levels of control. Nathan takes his teen daughter out to a fancy restaurant where he presents her with a fancy ring as a gift in exchange for dad being granted veto-power when it comes to potential boyfriends with no expiration date. I understand it's meant as a father caring for his daughter, but buying her a ring to celebrate her chastity seems incredibly creepy.

Courageous is an improved effort from the Kendrick brothers and their Sherwood Pictures production house. The movies may improve but they still remain subservient to a message, and the ticket-buyers who look forward to a positive affirmation of that message have fewer demands when it comes to characters, plot, direction, etc. The core audience has a high demand when it comes to spirituality, but I wish they had just as high demands for artistic quality. Why can't the faithful find inspiration from a movie that isn't so on-the-nose? Are my only choices when it comes to depictions of spirituality the bludgeoning type (Fireproof, Left Behind) or the esoteric (The Tree of Life)? Good intentions can only get you so far, and while its core message that men need to be responsible and step it up when it comes to parenting is valid, the rest of the movie jangles with some questionable representations and moral simplification. If people feel truly inspired by these movies to better themselves, then that's a commendable effect but it doesn't make the movie any better. At one point a character says that his father was "good enough." Adam responds, "Well, I don't want to be just a 'good enough' father." Well, to many Courageous will be a "good enough" Christian drama. To me, mediocrity knows no one faith.

Nate's Grade: C+

Super Reviewer

September 29, 2011
Honor Begins At Home

Good movie! This movie should inspire everyone to be the best you can be. Don't miss it.

As law enforcement officers, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes, and their partners are confident and focused. They willingly stand up to the worst the world can offer. Yet when they take off their badges at the end of the day, they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood. While they consistently give their best on the job, good enough seems to be all they can muster as dads. But they're quickly discovering that their standard is missing the mark. They know that God desires to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, but their children are beginning to drift further and further away from them. Will they be able to find a way to serve and protect those that are most dear to them? When tragedy hits home, these men are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their fathering. Can a newfound urgency help these dads draw closer to God ... and to their children? Courageous is the fourth release of Sherwood Pictures, the moviemaking ministry of Sherwood Church in Albany, Georgia. Their first release since FIREPROOF, the No. 1 independent film of 2008, Courageous joins Facing the Giants and Flywheel in touching and impacting lives through heartfelt stories of faith and hope. Moviegoers will again find themselves crying, laughing, and cheering-sometimes simultaneously-as they are inspired by everyday heroes who long to be the kinds of dads that make a lifelong impact on their children. Protecting the streets is second nature to these law enforcement officers. Raising their children? That will take courage. Courageous ... honor begins at home.
Coxxie M

Super Reviewer

September 28, 2011
actual, real-life conversation i had with ticket-guy at my hometown theater:

"Hey, um.. do you know what this movie is about? cause the poster is just four guys standing."
"Yea, its a christian movie."
"ok, cool. awesome... can you tell me what its about though?
"Like Fireproof.. you know Fireproof?
"No, i've never seen Fireproof.. whats that about?"
"Look man, the.. it... its a christian thing. its like Fireproof."
"well, thank you for that... two please!"
Lukas M

Super Reviewer

October 16, 2011
Great message, tedious movie.I'm sure southern Baptists will burn me to a stake but "Courageous" is far from a five star production. Having participated in several church plays I understand how difficult it is to find 'just the right actor' in a handful of volunteers, especially given the fact that most people aren't dramatically inclined. Still, even though the plot is somewhat monotonous and Alex Kendrick's scenes of anguish over the loss of his daughter reminded me more of bad acting, there are moments that tug at my heart such as the cop who repented of selling drugs and the delicate domestic balance of the Martinezes,So overall, I would say "Courageous" is worth seeing if a little ameturish. It may pale to "The Trip to Bountiful" or "Walking Across Egypt" but it would be an excellent choice for a sunday school discussion.

Super Reviewer

September 1, 2011
This is a film for Christians. It takes place in Georgia, home of Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain. Four police officers and a Latino repairman deal with life's problems by praying. This is the same production company that Kirk Cameron makes his lame movies as well. All of the previews were other films of this ilk.
Jackson W

Super Reviewer

November 5, 2011
In my opinion, its completely unfair to verbally bash a film that doesnt suit your personal beliefs. Yes, I am a Christian, and yes, this movie was made for me. However, films teaching other things I may not agree with aren't horrible to me. But I digress, I finally got around to seeing this movie and to my surprise I was actually gripped by a good chunk of it. The dramatic scenes really sell this film well, half the time you dont even know it is a Christian-based films. The beginning to me was the best part in the movie, car jacking and the baby son surviving was true pure Hollywood at its finest. And most of the morals here I do like with the exception of one element: the blind faith "just sit and do nothing yet trust in God and just bam, your life will be better". I've heard it, and I'm sorry, but I don't agree with it. God gave us hands to mold with, and feet to walk with, idle belief is in no way glorifying to him. But to be fair, the film isn't all about that which I like. The families actually do go through some real life issues which in the end does in fact strengthen their faith. I would have kinda liked to know these people a little more, but that's a preference. For what it is and the budget it probably had, it's really good.
Philip P

Super Reviewer

January 19, 2012
I can appreciate what Alex Kendrick and his team are trying to do with their series of Christian-based films. I can see with this latest effort that they are really trying to expand their audience and not just preach to the choir here. Sadly, the choir is probably the only people that are willing to watch this type of film. It starts out promising, it is clear the acting won't be as cheesy and the production budget seems much higher. The camera work is more impressive and overall Kendrick has become much more confident as a director. The downside is that it feels like it goes on, and on. The main revelation for our main character doesn't come until nearly 45 minutes in and after that it feels like another movie is attached. It is all well and good to let your audience get to know your characters but with so much going on here it begins to feel overcrowded and by the time the shoot out ending finally comes around you are still making sure you saw a resolution to all the other story lines. Fear not though, because if you missed anything Kenrick tacks on a sermon at the end that summarizes the entire film and everything it is attempting to teach. Here in lies the problem with these films though and their problem if they really want to reach a broader audience. You have served your message with the execution of the plot that has been set up and the story you have told. There is no need to reenforce your point by shoving it down peoples throats as if they were in church. People go to movies as a source of entertainment and yes, we occasionally get to take away more from a film that has a significant impact on us. "Courageous" offers some genuinely touching moments and is not as pressing as its directors earlier efforts, but Kendrick and his ministry still have a little to learn before they can craft a film that speaks to both the choir and the undecided.
Max G

Super Reviewer

September 8, 2012
A great movie for Christians about the value of fatherhood.
August 17, 2013
The transition between the scenes of drama and comedy seem awkward, but it still delivered a great message.
August 3, 2013
Incredible story. Makes you think of ways to help you do better in your life and in helping others.
September 28, 2011
very good family movie for all too see. abt. 4 men who stand up for eachother, protect, and take vow to to christian fathers to their children.
February 7, 2012
IN SPITE OF what most critics might say this movie was awesome. Sure it isn't a major production by Bay, Spielberg, Howard, or well...anyone else for that matter. It is however far superior to the previous movies (Fireproof, Facing the Giants) although each was good in their own rights. The actors are learning and the production is improving. Aside from the obvious low budget and lack of big name actors, I believe this movie excelled at demonstrating the true quality and courage that we men should have to lead and fight for the prosperity of our families. Its all about JESUS. If more of HIM was in all movies with less sex, vulgarity, and promotion of drugs and alcohol; our society, our families, and our children would be much better off.
October 21, 2012
I enjoyed this way more than I expected, but I bet the critic reviewers are jaundiced in their opinions by the fact that they are probably not Christians. "Treating subtlety as a sin" - excuse me while I gag. Murder, rape, theft, etc. - I guess these are just "subtleties" to Nick Schager of the Village Voice. Nick, get out of your drug-induced fog and try some actual life that doesn't revolve around you and your navel.
October 5, 2012
A very preachy, super-long movie with bad acting to boot. Could have been so much better! I know the creators were trying to have a good message, but you'll never catch any flies with vinegar!
Ida K

Super Reviewer

July 6, 2012
I don't like movies that preach the entire time but this one wasn't bad at all. It was more about people trying to do the right thing in their lives. The police scenes made it interesting.
January 21, 2012
While this movie was really bad, it was also hilarious and almost always gave me something to laugh at. From the blatant racial stereotypes to the overly dramatized dancing scene in the meadow to the chase and shoot-out scenes this movie attempts to pull off, it's incredibly entertaining. If you found "Facing the Giants" and "Fireproof" to be hysterical, definitely check this movie out and have a great time throwing insults at it! This is one of the best bad movies I've seen in a while!
May 31, 2012
Sherwood Pictures' most accomplished film to date, but I found it to be an overly-dramatic bore fest that was 30 minutes too long, making its message less effective.
March 18, 2012
Yanno...this just isn't Alex Kendrick's best offering. Compared to Facing The Giants, which I view as one of the best Christian films I've ever seen, this was pretty weak. I didn't dislike it, but the way over the top preachiness turned me off fairly early on, and that kinda ruined it for me. That being said, despite the good reverend's overbearing bible thumping, I still think he's awesome and the movie was pretty good. It's a bit of an emotional roller coaster, and at over two hours, I loved the length and was never bored. Minus a half star for beating the audience over the head with your bible a few too many times.
February 10, 2012
A movie with a good message and story line. It's time now, more than ever for Fathers to step up and be involved in their children's lives.
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