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2011 | PG-13 | 2.39:1



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User reviews

1 user review

Movie appeal



Theatrical release date

 30 September, 2011
 04 November, 2011

Country of origin

 United States

Box office




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Screenshots from Courageous Blu-ray

Courageous Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, September 30, 2011

“Courageous” is a sloppy feature film that concerns an important subject. It’s a Christian-themed picture, leaving its messages unlikely to be viewed by those who need it the most, preaching to the choir about the challenges of fatherhood and responsibility. However, to achieve those pivotal moments of cloud-questioning submission, writer/director/star Alex Kendrick elects a route of cornball storytelling, encouraging flat performances and employing iffy racial stereotypes, unable to snap the increasingly tedious amateur-hour spell. The Godly messages are direct and sincere, but delivered ineffectively, leaving “Courageous” somewhere between a basic cable cop show and a church infomercial.

In suburban Georgia, police officers Adam (Alex Kendrick), Nathan (Ken Bevel), Shane (Kevin Downes), and David (Ben Davies) are struggling to keep the peace, finding an influx of gang activity challenging their daily work. Always nonchalant about his parental duties, Adam and his family are hit with unimaginable tragedy, leaving the cop wrecked, reaching for any support he can find. Looking to the teachings of Jesus, Adam is able to return safely to his routine, only now he’s armed with a special plan. Convincing his fellow officers to join him in a contract with God to be a stronger parent and a better man, Adam commits to a life of service and strength, which is soon tested by various personal and professional challenges -- a persistent grind that concerns the entire group in unique ways. Also in the mix is Javier (Robert Amaya), a Mexican laborer looking for a financial break, finding a connection with Adam, inspired by his relationship with God.

The message here is one of manhood, and how the lack of dominant male figures in the family unit has contributed to the downfall of society, leading to increases in gang membership and toxic feelings of personal insignificance. It’s a significant topic worth a screen exploration, which is partially why it’s tricky to fully reject “Courageous,” despite its tone-deaf direction. Movies about strong male role models are few and far between, especially ones that make an attempt to understand the reluctance of those unwilling to take command of their relations, through either laziness or fear. Despite its substantial flaws, “Courageous” does manage to isolate that quivering feeling of communication, observing four men seeking to turn their obligations into points of pride and love. It’s a refreshing idea.

Unfortunately, Kendrick (“Fireproof,” “Facing the Giants”) isn’t an elegant filmmaker capable of shaping corrosive self-doubt, grief, and soulful confidence into a cohesive, professional motion picture (he can’t even keep extras from looking right into the camera). Instead, the feature flounders, sweating to keep all these characters in play with a screenplay that’s overly dependent on cliché to make its points. The cops are thinly drawn figures of questioning, saddled with miserable banter and crocodile tears, with Nathan the only truly intriguing personality -- a stoic man already committed to his family but enlivened by Adam’s contractual offer. The rest of the supporting parts are either disappointingly subservient (the women here are all doting housewives) or uncomfortably simplified, including a weird fixation on African-Americans as the urban plague of the community. There’s also the issue of Javier, a jolly Mexican hunting for work, scripted with cringing ay-ay-ay dialogue shared with wife Carmen (Angelita Nelson). This pair is one dwarf luchador short of a Telemundo sketch. Perhaps Kendrick has never spent time with other cultures.

To keep the audience awake, “Courageous” is bookended with tight supercop action, following the boys in beige as they track down troublesome types in the area. The procedural business strains credibility (there’s a hilarious “slingshot” move featured where Nathan is purposely ejected from a moving car), but it’s certainly entertaining, captured with all types of trendy shaky-cam views and sweaty, breathless performances. In fact, the only reasonable acting in the movie is found in these heated moments, taking the heavy burden of drama off the cast, only requiring them to shout and hustle. I wish there were more scenes like it.

Who knows, maybe in the sequel these officers of the law might come across a Caucasian suspect. Sky’s the limit.

The true purpose of “Courageous” is to preach, and Kendrick allows the majority of the movie to be filled with personal tests of character and declarations of faith. There’s even a closing sermon from Adam pointed directly at the audience, hoping to inspire men to stand up and take control of the situation. Again, it’s a valiant effort, but “Courageous” is such a clumsy motion picture, incapable of delivering its critical messages without displaying some of the most cringe-inducing filmmaking of the year.

Starring: Alex Kendrick, Ken Bevel, Kevin Downes
Director: Alex Kendrick

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