Rated PG-13 for violence and drug use.
Running time: 129 minutes
Distributor: Tri Star Pictures / Affirm Films
PG-13, 2 hr. 10 min.
Drama, Faith & Spirituality
Directed By: Alex Kendrick
In Theaters: Sep 30, 2011 Wide
Film Review by Kam Williams
Excellent (4 stars)
When Pastor Alex Kendrick read a report back in 2003 alleging that movies
had become more of an influence on impressionable young minds than the
church, he decided to do something about it. He and his brother, Stephen,
co-founded Sherwood Pictures in order to make their own faith-based films.
Operating on a modest budget under the aegis of the Sherwood Baptist Church of Albany, Georgia, the Christian-themed studio has previously produced a trio of well-received, inspirational morality plays, most notably, Fireproof, which grossed over $30 million at the box-office alone.
It is that struggle to juggle career and fatherhood which sits at the heart
of Courageous, a sobering parable designed to make men reflect on what's
most important in life. And to varying degrees, each of the picture's
protagonists proves to be a flawed individual.
First, there's Officer Adam Mitchell (Kendrick), who's been chided by his wife, Victoria (Renee Jewell), for not devoting enough quality time to their kids. He can't catch a break, between missing daughter Emily's (Lauren Etchells) dance recitals and declining son Dylan's (Rusty Martin) repeated offers to run a 5K race together.
Then we have Adam's partner, Shane Fuller (Kevin Downes), who behaves more like a pal than a dad to his 12 year-old, perhaps because he was left emotionally wounded by his own parents divorce. Consequently, he's taken to filling that hole in his soul in an inappropriate manner.
The third officer is Nathan Hayes (Ken Bevel), an 8-year vet from Atlanta who has just moved his family back to his hometown to raise his kids in a city with a slower pace. He never even met his own father until he was 37, so foremost among his issues is figuring out how to parent a flattered 15 year-old (Taylor Hutcherson) who's head is being turned by a 17 year-old (Donald Howze) gang member with his own car. Finally, there's Nathan's young partner, David Thomson (Ben Davies), a deadbeat dad who is denial about the existence of a 4 year-old daughter born out-of-wedlock.
Each of the aforementioned predicaments eventually boils over into a crisis leading to a moment of truth. But no matter the issue, again and again the question seems to return to whether or not one is ready to summon up the requisite amalgam of courage, faith and resolve to be a man.
A moving, modern parable not to be missed by anyone who's always wondering why they don't make wholesome movies with uplifting messages anymore.