Alex Kendrick, director
The call to live intentionally and purposefully as a father is at the heart of Sherwood Pictures’ latest offering, Courageous. Focusing on the lives of five men from varying circumstances, Alex Kendrick (director, co-writer, actor) weaves a story that comes together well. This film inspires the viewer, and shows that when we humbly seek answers by prayerfully and carefully studying Scripture our lives and the lives of those around us can change in the midst, and often as a result, of tragic and heartbreaking circumstances.
Four of the main characters are police officers whom befriend a fifth man after observing how repeated unemployment thwarts his sense of purpose. All these men are chellenged by the complexities of fatherhood, whether by their own ability to father or their lack of a present father.
The fatherhood theme introduced early in the movie and is driven home in both subtle and preachy ways. At times, the overt use of statistics is a little uncomfortable and plastic. The more subtle offerings are often inspiring and tear-jerking.
The film felt drawn out and would have likely received higher ratings if more attention had been paid to the flow of the story. The cadence of the film was predictable with highs and lows coming at anticipated intervals. Most of the acting was well done, especially Kendrick, yet there were times it felt forced and fake. On the whole, however, the good outweighed the bad.
Because of the saccharine content of Sherwood Pictures’ previous offerings, Fireproof and Facing the Giants, my expectations for this film were low regarding how Christianity would be played out on the big screen. I also had low expectations for the film’s entertainment value. However, the transformational stories of each man, whether from faithlessness to faith or from fruitlessness to fruit, were well done. Adam, played by Kendrick, says at one point, “I don’t just want to be ‘good enough.’” He experiences tragedy, seeks after God, and finds his life transformed. One of the supporting characters, after questioning and rejecting, eventually chooses Christ. One of the men falls to the wayside.
I viewed these men as a modern-day portrayal of Christ’s parable about the different kinds of soil (Matthew 13:3–23). Through these characters, the audience is confronted with the repercussions of the men’s choices. Does faithfulness matter?
The overall message about what a relationship with Christ is like is not one of health, wealth, and prosperity. The film communicates well that choosing to follow Christ as a father and as a man – indeed, as a person – will be challenging and challenged. It takes resolve, determination, and intentionality. The present results are more about internal transformation than outward reward. The clarity of the message will likely be quite offensive to a non-Christian, but will hopefully result in great conversation following the film.
Courageous ranked the #4 film in the U.S. on its opening weekend, making it the most successful product of Sherwood Pictures thus far. Most people will enjoy this movie. Every man who is a father, has a father, or ever wants to be a father should see this film. Perhaps some of the transformational messages will make their way off the screen and into the homes of families throughout North America.