Courageous explores the paternal relationships of four unique families.
Police officer Adam Mitchell (Alex Kendrick) believes himself to be a good father because he provides for the physical needs of his wife and children, but thinks nothing of skipping out on a 5K father-son race, or declining an offer from his 9-year-old daughter to dance together in a deserted parking lot. He seems to believe that because he works hard at his career, which supports his family, he has earned the right to neglect the emotional needs of his family.
Meanwhile, police officer Shane Fuller (Kevin Downes) struggles with maintaining a relationship with his son after his divorce, and also finds it difficult to maintain monthly alimony. Rookie David Thompson (Ben Davies) does his best to keep secret the fact that he has a child hidden from the world, choosing instead to play the role of a carefree bachelor. Nathan Hayes (Ken Bevel) is another police officer who has made the conscious decision to support his family in a way his father never did, and is willing to meet that challenge each and every day.
In addition to the police officers and their own personal struggles with their family relationships, Courageous focuses on Javier Martinez (Robert Amaya), who is struggling to keep his home, wherein he, his wife, and two children reside.
The personal struggles plaguing each man take a toll on them, and they manage to find solace in one another, as they all have fatherhood in common.
For the most part, the men believe they have their lives and their roles figured out, until tragedy strikes, and opportunities arise that, in some instances, pose even larger challenges than those of everyday life. Each man is faced with a choice which will change his life, and without God and a strict reliance on Christian principles, the men are without hope.
Adam, who must cope with the tragic loss of his daughter, begins to question God’s expectations of him, and turns to the Bible to understand the biblical and godly role of husband and father. He chooses a path that will ultimately lead him to recommit to his family in a way that he did not at the start.
For Nathan, God’s expectations of him as a father and husband were a focal point from the start, as it was a Christian man who mentored him when he was a child, struggling with his father’s absence. As an adult, Nathan takes on that same mentoring role for David, who fathered a child out of wedlock and then abandoned the woman and child.
The film highlights a number of Christian principles, including abstinence, forgiveness, and a child’s right to life.
It also focuses on the powerful impact of significant friendships, a biblical sense of duty, and courage that pervades even seemingly mundane moments.
Perhaps most importantly, the film emphasizes the importance of witnessing to others: not simply understanding and accepting God’s word, but spreading it to others, and serving as spiritual guides to those most in need.
The film’s single drawback is that it at times borders on preaching. However, Courageous is a moving film which manages to interject some wit and humor into what otherwise would be a straight drama. It also features action that is exciting while not becoming overwhelmingly violent or bloody. Courageous wholly avoids elements which other movies are all too happy to include, such as sexual content.
Viewers should beware that Courageous is an absolute tearjerker, and bring their handkerchiefs. This is one of the film’s greatest strengths, however: its ability to poignantly capture and portray heart-wrenching moments to which any moviegoer may relate.
The film is reminiscent of Fireproof, by the same producer, Sherwood Pictures, except unlike Fireproof, which focused on marriage, Courageous targets fatherhood. Because it strongly promotes faith and biblical truths, the film is particularly appropriate for believers. But it is hard to imagine almost any moviegoer not being impacted by the film’s gripping story and message.