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Four men, one calling: To serve and protect. As law enforcement officers, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes, David Thomson, and Shane Fuller are confident and focused. Yet 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...
For more about Courageous and the Courageous Blu-ray release, see Courageous Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 18, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Alex Kendrick, Ken Bevel, Kevin Downes
Director: Alex Kendrick
» See full cast & crew
Courageous Blu-ray Review
Work up the courage to watch this potentially life-altering film.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 18, 2012
Stephen and Alex Kendrick have done something that today's world says should be darn near impossible to do. Not only are they living the American dream, but they're doing work of an even higher calling. They've gone from mere churchgoers to power players on the Hollywood scene, filmmakers who have taken faith-based cinema beyond a small niche market and made it into a lucrative business on a national level. But more than that, their message is now reaching potential millions of people, far more than who could ever pack into their church and many countless more who might otherwise be afraid of taking that first step in discovering whatever their life may mean beyond the earthly superficialities, a step Stephen and Alex's films take with them hand-in-hand, stride-for-stride, spirit-in-spirit, and heart-to-heart. And while their films grow more popular and profitable, they've remained grounded in faith and refused to rework their movies in any way towards a more secular approach or message. Their latest, the Family/Police Drama Courageous, certainly shows great leaps in the technical elements of filmmaking, but the picture remains true in message and purpose to their previous films like Facing the Giants and Fireproof. God remains first in the films, even if He's not the focal point of every scene, instead a quiet presence that positively influences the characters and their actions. Courageous is a strong, moving picture about family and faith, a picture sure to reinforce principles and, perhaps, speak to those in search of something better for their lives.
Nathan Hays (Ken Bevel) falls victim to an attempted carjacking. He manages to subdue the thief, not because he's concerned with the truck, but because his baby daughter has been riding in the back all along. When the police arrive on the scene, it's revealed that Nathan is a recent transplant who's to start his new job on the force the following day. He's paired with the relatively young and inexperienced David (Ben Davies) as part of a four-man warrant team, the others being Adam Mitchell (Alex Kendrick) and Shane Fuller (Kevin Downes). The men are briefed on a new statistic that shows that children who come from fatherless homes, or from homes where the father is largely absent, are more prone to a life of crime and violence. That, and Nathan's risk-taking endeavor to save his daughter, sparks a discussion on the true role of fatherhood in their lives. However, it's not until tragedy strikes do the men come realize that they must take advantage of the time they have been given and work towards becoming strong, Biblically-based fathers who don't merely support their children, but love and dedicate themselves to them. While they work towards living up to the bond they've made and the agreement they've come to in the presence of God, they befriend a poor man named Javier (Robert Amaya) who comes to learn the value of hard work, honesty, and faith in God in the time he spends with the four seemingly inseparable and spiritually-aware officers. Can they all maintain their faith and live up to their creed, or will the world drag one or more of them down and threaten to undo all they've accomplished for one another, their families, and their very souls?
There are two types of audiences who will watch this movie: dedicated Christians and folks who have either lost their way or who have yet to find their paths. Obviously, the former will enjoy the movie, and perhaps even find in it not only reinforcements of their faith, but new ideas and new approaches to better their family structure and standing with God. For the latter, two questions arise: how relevant is the movie to nonbelievers, and does it preach? The answer to the first is "yes," and the answer to the second is also "yes," but not in a traditional sense of a pastor and pulpit and certainly not with the proverbial fire and brimstone. The movie espouses values first and foremost, values that are certainly grounded in Godly pursuits but that are also more universal values that speak on the role of fatherhood, family, and friendship. Courageous doesn't overtly seek to convert, but to open a new door, to show its audience that there's maybe a better way of doing things, of seeing the world, of living one's life as a husband and father. It shows that life isn't easy even for those who place God first in their lives, or for those characters who are led to do so through the course of the picture. But it's through their shortcomings and fellowship and tragedy and reinforcement of the Godly principles and a better understanding of God's love and place in their lives that they learn to stand taller, to stand for those things which can better themselves, their families, and their friendships. Courageous is a movie of ideas and principles, of people and love, not stiffness and fear. It's a universal picture with a universal message, one that at the very least deserves consideration as a part of a strong, loving foundation for the building of a better life.
Courageous certainly won't win any awards for originality, but that's not its purpose. The film doesn't aim to break new ground, but to reinforce and champion good old-fashioned values that have largely lost their way and place in the modern world. The picture aims to deliver a fullness and richness to the spirit rather than to add something new to the broader cinematic landscape, which is a far more admirable goal than mere cinematic fluff, something perhaps even the most jaded of audiences can agree upon. Still, the characters are somewhat generic, even if their message is not. Adam Mitchell is something of a typical father, a loving and hardworking man but a man whose priorities are just a little bit off-kilter. He adores his children, but he doesn't quite understand their needs, wants, or his greater role of fatherhood beyond providing for their basic needs. He won't run with his son or dance with his daughter, not because he doesn't love them, but because he doesn't understand who he is. But it's exactly this dynamic, his representation of something of an "everyman," that is the key to unlocking the film's greater purpose. It works so well because he's someone who is easily relatable, a good man in heart and, generally, in action, but whose life remains somewhat vacant and aimless. His friends on the force similarly go through life with little direction, striving not to improve their lives, but to merely live them, to get by through them. Nathan Hays is the film's rock -- physically and spiritually -- in his portrayal of a man who's closer than the others in his greater understanding of life and his role in it, but it takes Adam's courage to see him, and the others, over the top and into a special bond that goes beyond mere friendship as they personally ascend to something greater than simple fatherhood.
Though its messages may be unconventional for a Hollywood film, its technical merits are anything but. For a minuscule budget of about $2,000,000.00, the filmmakers have created in Courageous a movie as polished and well-made as many others with a significantly larger sum of money with which to play. The film oozes professionalism and authenticity, with few liberties taken for dramatic purposes. The film prides itself in its ability to work around its story and stay grounded and visually honest; there is no flash, just a natural progression of things as the story is told through even, steady direction that only serves to frame the story rather than define it. The editing is a real strength, too; the movie flows very well, even as it clocks in at two hours sans credits, a testament to the gripping narrative, technical polish, and underlying spirit. The acting is a strong point, too. For a film comprised largely -- but not almost exclusively, as with the previous Kendrick films -- of unknowns coming out of the Kendricks' church, there's an almost uncanny authenticity to the parts, whether in action on the streets or at home in times of faith, fellowship, and tragedy. Alex Kendrick is strong as the lead character, steady and firm, carried by his character's arc and nothing more. As he is in the film, Ken Bevel is the actors' rock; he carries himself well through his somewhat imposing physical stature, countered by an equally large tenderness and spiritual balance that's always right there on his sleeve, in his eyes, and in his actions. The remainder of the cast if strong, too, with Robert Amaya's turn as the goodhearted Javier the film's richest and most heartfelt performance.
Courageous Blu-ray, Video Quality
Courageous debuts on Blu-ray with a sparkling 1080p Blu-ray transfer, no surprise coming from Sony. The movie was shot digitally, but this isn't an average digital presentation. The image nearly passes for film considering its liveliness, steadiness, complexity, and natural sheen that's more organic than it is glossy and flat. Colors sparkle in most every scene; daytime shots in particular yield some amazingly bright shades, whether the earthen colors of the officers' uniforms, natural green vegetation, or even the predominantly white police cruisers. Likewise, fine detail is generally breathtaking. Facial textures are complex while well-startched clothes take on a true, accurate shape and tactile appearance. Exterior and interior objects alike reveal firm, accurate detailing, aided by incredible clarity and cleanliness. Skin tones are natural throughout and under any lighting conditions. Blacks are solid, perhaps a hair washed out in spots but more than acceptable in overall appearance. The image does feature light banding in a few scenes and slight background noise on one or two occasions. Nevertheless, this is a gorgeous transfer from Sony.
Courageous Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Courageous features a balanced and accurate DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. While it enjoys great clarity and presence, the film is naturally and largely absent of any material that would drive a soundtrack to sonically intense or interesting heights. Nevertheless, what's here is handled with great care and efficiency. The film is primarily a dialogue-intensive experience. The spoken word remains planted in the center channel and never competes with or becomes lost under surrounding elements. Music is crisp and nicely spacious, but plays a hair lower in volume at reference level than most other pictures. Some popular Christian tunes do play with a strong, healthy low end that gives them a pleasing body. A string of gunshots heard near film's end play with good authority and sonic accuracy. Listeners won't feel like a part of the gunfight, but the track handles it, the movie's most sonically-intensive scene, with ease. Courageous won't win any awards for its soundtrack, but Sony's provided a steady, accurate track that reflects the movie nicely.
Courageous Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Courageous features a strong array of extras. It's not the meatiest supplemental package ever, but fans should be pleased with what's been included.
Courageous Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Courageous is a spectacular film of family and faith. Its centerpiece revolves around the role of Christian fatherhood in the home, of the man's place as the spiritual leader of his household. It's a picture of discovery, of tragedy, of faith in something greater for the betterment of oneself, one's family, and one's community. The picture espouses positive, uplifting messages that will speak to all comers, Christians or non-Christians, those seeking to reaffirm their own faith and values or those merely in search of something positive on which they may build upon and in some way incorporate into their own lives. The film is well made and looks and plays well beyond its budget. Strong acting and steady direction round Courageous into form as a fantastic, must-see movie fit for all audiences. Sony's Blu-ray release of Courageous features tip-top video and audio to go along with a good array of extras, and it receives my highest recommendation.
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Courageous Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Courageous Blu-ray - November 21, 2011
Next year, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will bring Courageous to Blu-ray. Directed by Alex Kendrick (Fireproof), this faith-based drama centers on four police officers struggling to balance their personal and professional lives. Courageous streets on January ...
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