Courageous, the fourth and latest effort from Sherwood Pictures, the filmmaking ministry behind Facing the Giants and Fireproof, has received a mixed bag of reviews. While Christians love it, critics hate it. Some may argue that the reasons lie within the subject matter, but it’s both the technical and filmmaking flaws that cause the film to fumble. And boy does it fumble. Courageous is a movie with a good-hearted aim: preaching the importance of fatherhood and the responsibilities that come with it. Unfortunately, the film feels like a two-hour sermon on the subject matter, with brief pauses for police drama, tearful affirmations and poor monologues. For the best part of Courageous the Kendrik brothers are preaching to the choir.
PLOT: When a tragedy strikes close to home, four police officers struggle with their faith and their roles as husbands and fathers; together they make a decision that will change all of their lives.
DIRECTOR: Alex Kendrick
CAST: Alex Kendrick, Ken Bevel and Kevin Downes
GENRE: Christian Drama
AGE RESTRICTION: PG 13
EDITOR’S NOTE: I always knew that it would be a tough title to review, especially because I am a Christian filmmaker myself. Hopefully this gives me some liberty to be brutally honest regarding Courageous. My intentions would certainly never be to discourage Christian audiences from seeing it, but rather to warn you about the quality of the film you are about to see. Yes, Courageous is an adequate tool on Christian ethos and values, but this doesn’t necessary qualify it as a good quality film. I own both Facing the Giants and Fireproof, but I can assure you that I won’t be adding Courageous to my collection.
The film sees yet another collaboration between brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, both from Sherwood Church. Their previous titles have gained them a lot of respect amongst Christian moviegoers, especially after their last release, Fireproof, went on to receive a number of film awards. In the past they have dealt with issues of “having faith”, “living by Godly principles” and “creating a fireproof marriage”. This time, the theme, hammered home repeatedly, focuses on father figures and their biblical tasks.
Courageous is set in the small town of Albany, where four sheriff deputies and an unemployed blue-collar Hispanic worker become friends. Jumping between the five, we see their own personal struggles with parenting. Soon tragedy hits and the five decide to craft an oath to be the best possible fathers they can be, according to God’s word.
To most the story would sound formidable, but unfortunately it’s laden with really bad dialogue, poor directing, bad camera work, terrible lighting and weak acting. Weighing in at 130 minutes Courageous is a slog to get through. Despite the story’s earnest emotional core it often falls flat and becomes way, way, way (did I say way?) too cheesy.
Courageous is a really sloppy feature film that concerns a really important subject. Sadly those who do need to hear this great fatherhood message probably won’t be bothered. Courageous is way too Christianese.
Com’on! Christian’s are capable of making better movies than this! Take Soul Surfer for example.