I think all of the people I diligently follow, and those in my blogging “scene” who wanted to have seen this movie. Sill, I felt it was important to post a review on it for any readers here who might not have heard of this wonderful little film. To support the wonderful group of people behind Sherwood Pictures, my family bought a copy of Courageous its first week to DVD. After sitting around for two weeks, finally we got around to watching it. Since most of you probably know how the film unfolds, I will give as brief as possible synopsis, and get right to my thoughts and conclusions of the movie itself so as not to bore you.
For years Nathan (Alex Kendrick) and Shane (Kevin Downes) have been buddies. They’ve watched each other’s children grow, gone to church together and worked together as partners. As sheriff deputies, their sworn duty is to serve and protect the people of Georgia – it is that duty that often interferes with their lives off the job and their duty to their own children. Newcomer Nathan Hayes (Ken Bevel) transfers to their small southern town in order to raise his family in his former small-town, and rookie deputy David Thompson (Ben Davies) is assigned as Nathan’s partner. Together the four of them have an easy-going friendship even amidst the daily pressures of work. When tragedy strikes, it puts everything on hold for Nathan – he realizes how short life is and in the aftermath of his grief, he is jarred into a new realization that prompts him to start a revolution to bring back how fatherhood was meant to be. His biblical journey takes him further than he’d ever expected as he stands up as a man of faith – a man of courage, and challenges those around him to do the same.
Each of the Kendrick brothers productions have impressed me – for different reasons but their third effort, Fireproof was considerably better (in production terms) than its predecessor. Although each of the brother’s movies have had inspiring messages, this one didn’t improve its editing or production on Fireproof (in my opinion) but it is a touching picture of fatherhood and family nonetheless. Even under tragic circumstances it puts so much into perspective, and demonstrates that even those who are Christians and actually live a life as a Christian are not exempt from circumstances beyond our mere mortal control. If there is an obvious flaw, it is the movies’ inclination to move at such a slow pace. I think about halfway though it gets caught up in heartbreak – and understandably so, and in a sense, it gets stuck in limbo. Fortunately for the sake of the script, it seems to gain momentum again before too much time has passed and presents an accurate picture of healing – both of the emotional and physical pain.
Maybe what most impressed me about this one was the wide range it covered in each of the men’s lives. It covers nearly every situation we can imagine as regards fatherhood: an out-of-wedlock and divorced father, and also fatherhood as God always intended it to be (marriage and then the baby carriage). Sad as it may be, it offers the story a chance to put forth more realism. And the subplots don’t just stop with themes of fatherhood. There are other elements regarding greed and re-building loved ones trust. Somehow all of it does work together for the greater good. Shown in theaters this past fall, this may not have been remembered like so many other films out at the same time but the important thing is that its impact was so much deeper than anything Hollywood brings to our local theaters.
Given that most of the actors were local talent and members from the writers, producers and directors (Stephen and Alex Kendrick) church, there are times when the acting is awkward and not “at ease” but that doesn’t stop the movie from capturing some genuine talents in its cast. The screenplay also isn’t as “polished” as it could have been but considering that the movie actually has an important message to impart, it really shouldn’t prevent anyone from supporting this otherwise extraordinary movie. Just one such precious moment involves a father asking his daughter to trust him with her heart until the right man comes along – you tell me: does it get much sweeter than that? No matter what society or “experts” say, fathers are important in children’s lives and that is ultimately what this movie has to say. It has a lot of heart - plus did I mention Casting Crowns wrote the titular song, and it is awesome (love that band!) - and though it hasn’t reached the audience it could, you shouldn’t underestimate this inspiring movie – it makes us think about fatherhood and life in general, and today, that is saying something.
(Be aware of some content in the form of one stand-off between police and criminals [there is no blood but one man does get shot], the death of one character and the discovery that one man is stealing evidence from the police locker. Another person recounts his brief college romance that resulted in a child [he basically compares the relationship to a one-night fling and alludes to having wanted an abortion in his past]. The film is rated PG13.)