2011, 129 minutes
Like Fireproof, Facing the Giants and Flywheel before it, Courageous is a sermon wrapped up as a film. But unlike those earlier Kendrick brothers’ efforts – where the message took precedence over the moviemaking – this time the sermon has been wrapped up in a really good film!
The moral of this story is that fathers are vital to their kids, and consequently to the whole country. We follow five fathers, four of them police officers, only one of which seems to be doing a great job as a dad. Another, Adam Mitchell, will seem quite familiar to most of us – he isn’t a bad father; he just isn’t as good as he could be. Or to put it in his own words, “I’m doing about half of what I should be.”
Courageous begins and ends with a pair of chase scenes which give the Kendricks a chance to show just how good they have become at staging action sequences. These are basically police chase scenes, and they are intense! In the middle of the film we have some comedic scenes that are laugh out loud funny, and of course plenty of edifying conversations about the challenges of fatherhood.
Two cautions: the comedy and action make this a film that most of the family would enjoy, however there is one tragic event that makes this too emotional for children, and might make it quite unpleasant for some parents too. Without giving too much away, one of the five families is struck by tragedy, which is what gets that father to reassess just what he’s doing as a dad. It is a necessary plot element, but it turns this from a start-to-finish feel-good movie to one that will take viewers through the full range of emotions.
The second caution would only be not to expect too much from the film. If you're looking for depth and nuance and Academy Award winning acting. then this isn't for you. The acting's not remarkable but it is solid. And while the biblical model of godly fatherhood is given a compelling presentation here, it certainly isn't a comprehensive one - there isn't time for more in a 2-hour film.
What you will find here is an encouraging, inspiring plea for fathers to get on with the task and privilege of raising their children. If you don’t mind being challenged as you are being amused, you’ll enjoy it. Edifying and entertaining – it’s a rare combination, but the Kendricks have pulled it off!