Case Number 23141


Sony // 2011 // 129 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 17th, 2012

The Charge

Honor begins at home.

Opening Statement

From the guys behind Fireproof and Facing the Giants comes another well-intentioned, yet regrettably half-baked God-centric effort.

Facts of the Case

Courageous tells the story of four cops from the small Southern town of Albany. They are, in fact, courageous, chasing down car-jackers, body-slamming gang-members, and generally doing coppish things. Sadly, tragedy strikes one the guys, and his family is faced with a devastating personal loss. Propelled by this heartbreak, the friends decide to recommit themselves to fatherhood, signing resolutions to be better dads and stalwarts in their homes. Meanwhile, a Spanish guy builds a shed.

The Evidence

Here's what Courageous and it's brethren are: movies for a very narrow audience. They're for churches or small groups at a men's retreat. These are movies for the converted.

Released from those confines, it's just impossible to consider Courageous any kind of a functional film. The jokes are corny, the runtime is bloated, the action is lukewarm and sporadic, and the message is heavy-handed. I'm sorry, but it's this kind of amateurish filmmaking that gives serious Christian works a bad name.

Full disclosure: This is all coming from a card-carrying member of the Alpha and Omega fan club. If the goal is to get people on board with the soul trail, I just don't see what flaccid fluff like this does to draw in an audience and take the espoused worldview seriously. Again, as a film that appeals to the narrowest of demographics, I suppose you can call Courageous a mild success. But I demand more of my Christian auteurs and the message they carry demands more. (If you want to see high-end art for the reverent, track down Of Gods and Men.)

Drilling a bit deeper, it becomes obvious that Courageous has been designed as more of a Bible Study aid than anything else. Like "The Love Dare," championed in Fireproof (also for sale: "Fireproof Your Marriage"), the fatherhood resolution given screen time here has been designed as a tool for Believers. And, really, that's all well and good. It's a great idea for dads to sack up and become better men for their families, but this is all a bit too transparent. If ideas like these work for people, awesome. It just doesn't make for thought-provoking cinema.

If you're willing to sign up for duty, Sony's Blu-ray is solid. The 2.35:1/1080p video treatment is clean throughout, despite the generally unimaginative scenery that whizzes by. Audio: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio with little to do, save for pumping out generic action music during the big shoot-out at the end.

Extras include a filmmakers' commentary, deleted scenes, outtakes, a making-of featurette (in HD), a pair of segments on the Biblical angle the film takes, a goofy "Courageous in 60 Seconds" gag, and a digital copy.

Closing Statement

Courageous is not really a movie. It's small group curriculum. So...

The Verdict

Guilty. BTW, Internal Affairs would like to have a word with the Kendrick brothers.

Review content copyright © 2012 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 80
Acting: 60
Story: 65
Judgment: 62

Perp Profile
Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)

Audio Formats:
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (French)

* English
* English (SDH)
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 129 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentary
* Deleted Scenes
* Featurettes
* Gag Reel
* Digital Copy

* IMDb

* Official Site