Courageous Movie Portrays a Different Kind of Courage
By Meg Korpi and Rusty Wright
Courageous begins as a fast-paced police drama with plenty of heart-pounding action, and a spine-tingling surprise within the first three minutes. Good-natured banter and comic mishaps had us laughing, but the movie quickly reveals an introspective side that portends more than levity and brave guys in uniforms chasing bad guys in do-rags.
Indeed, Courageous tells a grounded, human story that focuses on the crucial role of fathers. It intertwines action, humor, pathos, male bonding, a couple of insightful women, and five complex main characters to portray ordinary men evolving into modern-day heroes who find the call to valor in their everyday lives.
A Different Kind of Courage
As peace officers commissioned “to serve and protect,” the protagonists are accustomed to facing danger. But when personal tragedy strikes, officer Adam Mitchell responds with a different kind of courage. Rather than bemoaning his fate, he exhibits the mettle to examine his adequacy as a father, confront his flaws, talk about them, and commit to change.
Most would probably say he’s a “good enough” father (he provides for his family and does all society expects), but Adam adopts a higher standard. He resolves to be involved in his son’s life and make an enduring positive impact. Determined to follow through, Adam formalizes his decision with a written Resolution. Then he has the guts to ask other men to hold him accountable. This is not your typical Hollywood hero.
Adam’s experience prompts his friends to join in adopting the Resolution. When life inevitably confronts them with difficult moral choices, they weigh their options and tempting advice like, “maybe it’s not wrong; maybe it just looks that way.” In retrospect, it turns out their apparent moral dilemmas weren’t dilemmas at all, just decisions that required courage.
A Different Kind of Movie
Courageous is the third cinematic release from Sherwood Pictures, the successful moviemaking arm of Sherwood Church in Albany, Georgia. Previous releases (also marketed by Sony-Provident Films) include Facing the Giants (2006) and Fireproof, 2008’s top-grossing independent film.
The movie and acting are surprisingly competent, with moments of brilliance. (We predict Robert Amaya’s Snake King scene will become a classic.) This is impressive, considering the film used scores of volunteer cast, crew, caterers, etc., with minimal professional talent. Two brothers—Sherwood pastors and NYT best-selling authors Alex and Stephen Kendrick—wrote the screenplay. Alex also directed and starred; Stephen produced. “We [were] all in this together,” noted Alex, “trying to make a movie that matters.”
Actor Ken Bevel, whose character survived a fatherless childhood, connected personally with his role. His own father was absent for 21 years: “That gap really hurt in a lot of areas.…There’s nothing like your father actually being there and teaching you.”
Courageous is a movie with a message. It educates, makes us think, and challenges norms. It strives to present life-changing truths that touch viewers’ hearts and motivate them to action. Thus, it shares purpose with such unlikely films as An Inconvenient Truth and Bowling for Columbine, while drawing on different values. It reverberates with the biblical admonition: “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Resources for Action
Courageous challenges viewers to examine their lives, and offers fodder for discussing values, parenting, self-improvement, responsibility to one another, etc. But the filmmakers go further by providing online resources to help motivated moviegoers pursue the film’s themes in their own lives.
While it provides humorous and engaging entertainment, ultimately Courageous should be judged for its greater purpose—as a vehicle for long-lasting positive impact on society. Time will tell.
DVD available January 17, 2012.
Meg Korpi studies character development and ethical decision-making through the Character Research Institute in Northern California. She holds a PhD from, and formerly taught at, Stanford University.
Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.RustyWright.com
Copyright © 2011 Meg Korpi and Rusty Wright
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Editors: Note pictures from film below. More photos are here.