Easily the most polished production so far from brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the prolific and increasingly accomplished filmmaking pastors at the Sherwood Church of Albany, Ga.

With: Alex Kendrick, Ken Bevel, Ben Davies, Kevin Downes, Robert Amaya, Rusty Martin.

Moviegoers devoted to faith-based fare will flock to megaplexes for “Courageous,” easily the most polished production so far from brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the prolific and increasingly accomplished filmmaking pastors at the Sherwood Church of Albany, Ga. Their latest effort appears poised to surpass the near-miraculous B.O. success of “Fireproof,” one of 2008’s highest-grossing indies of any denomination, and should enjoy a long afterlife as homevid product. Mainstream breakout success likely will prove elusive, as the pic will prove too preachy for many tastes, but even agnostics could respond to the Kendricks’ uplifting message regarding responsible parenting.

Both Kendrick siblings collaborated on the script, and Stephen gets solo credit as producer. But Alex makes fair claim to be the true multihyphenate here, capably serving as director and lead actor. The plot focuses on the relationships formed and concerns shared by four dedicated sheriff’s deputies and an upright Mexican immigrant in a midsized Georgia community; over the course of “Courageous,” however, Adam Mitchell (Alex Kendrick) emerges as unmistakably first among equals in terms of importance and screen time.

Introduced as a basically decent fellow whose only sins are workaholism and emotional reserve, Adam endures a devastating tragedy early on that causes him to question his values. Comforted and inspired by his religious faith, he vows to become a better parent to his mildly rebellious teen son (Rusty Martin). Furthermore, he encourages his friends to join him in signing a pledge — not unlike the “Love Dare” that figured so prominently in “Fireproof” — to seek and follow God’s guidance while being the best dad possible.

Trouble is, one member of the group is quite capable of moral compartmentalizing: Even while promising to do the right thing as a father, he’s willing to break a few commandments for some quick cash.

Some conversations about religion and redemption come off as convincingly sincere but entirely too long-winded. In fact, the pic as a whole would have benefited from judicious trimming down from its 129-minute length.

But director Kendrick handles a few action setpieces with impressive dexterity, and performances across the board are credible and creditable. Indeed, makers of secular indies and even major studio productions would do well to check out “Courageous” for casting possibilities.

It should be noted that the underlying message of “Courageous” is all the more compelling because of its context. Time and again, the pic effectively emphasizes how the deputies are reminded on a daily basis what eventually can happen to at-risk children who don’t have fathers involved in their lives. Little wonder, then, that they’re moved to ask God’s help to hone their own paternal skills.

Popular on Variety


Production: A Sony Pictures Entertainment release of a TriStar Pictures and Sherwood Pictures presentation in association with Provident Films and Affirm Films of a Kendrick Brothers production. Produced by Stephen Kendrick. Executive producers, Michael C. Catt, Jim McBride, Terry Hemmings. Directed by Alex Kendrick. Screenplay, Alex Kendrick, Stephen Kendrick.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Bob Scott; editors, Alex Kendrick, Stephen Hullfish, Bill Ebel; music, Mark Willard; production designers, Darian Corley, Sheila McBride; costume designer, Terri Catt; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS), Rob Whitehurst; associate producers, Dennis Wiemer, Larry Frenzel; assistant director, Stephen Ostrander; casting, Catt. Reviewed at Edwards Marq*E Stadium 23, Houston, Sept. 30, 2011. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 129 MIN.

With: With: Alex Kendrick, Ken Bevel, Ben Davies, Kevin Downes, Robert Amaya, Rusty Martin.

More Film

  • Leonardo Dicaprio Once Upon a Time

    Leonardo DiCaprio's Earth Alliance Commits $5 Million to Amazon Fires

    Earth Alliance, an environmental initiative backed by Leonardo DiCaprio, has committed $5 million toward the preservation of the Amazon rain forest following an alarming surge in wildfires. After launching Sunday, the organization’s emergency Amazon Forest Fund is working to support local partners and indigenous communities in their efforts to protect the sensitive habitats within the [...]

  • (from left) Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson)

    Box Office: 'Hobbs & Shaw' Scores $102 Million Debut in China, Nears $600 Million Globally

    Universal’s “Hobbs & Shaw” returned to first place on the international box office charts, thanks to a massive $102 million debut in China. The “Fast & Furious” spinoff, starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, collected another $120 million overseas, boosting its foreign tally to $441 million. “Hobbs & Shaw” is nearing the $600 million mark [...]

  • Angel Has Fallen

    Box Office: 'Angel Has Fallen' Rises to No. 1 With $21 Million Debut

    “Angel Has Fallen,” the third chapter in Lionsgate and Millenium’s action franchise starring Gerard Butler, had a stronger opening weekend than expected, collecting $21.25 million during its first three days of release. Those ticket sales were enough to top domestic box office charts, bumping last weekend’s champ, Universal’s comedy “Good Boys,” to second place. Starring [...]

  • Amanda

    ‘Amanda’ Takes Home Best Int’l Film at 15th Sanfic

    SANTIAGO, Chile    French director Mikhael Hers’ “Amanda” scooped up the Best Int’l Film award Saturday (Aug. 24) at the 15th Santiago Int’l Film Fest (Sanfic), which reported a 20% audience uptick in the past two years and continues to grow its reputation as the most vibrant and prominent film festival in Latin America’s Southern [...]

  • disney d23

    Cruella, Kit Harington and Black Panther's Return: Everything We Learned at D23 Day Two

    Not to be outdone by the avalanche of series orders and casting announcements bolstering the new streaming series Disney Plus, Walt Disney Studios showed off its film wares in a marathon presentation at D23 on Saturday. The Anaheim, Calif. expo brought star power, if perhaps fewer surprises than Friday’s presentation, as fans in princess and [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift'The

    Taylor Swift Downplays Association With Harvey Weinstein

    Taylor Swift’s association with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was among the topics the singer addressed in a revealing new interview with The Guardian. Weinstein held producer credits for the movies “One Chance” and “The Giver,” both of which featured Swift — in the former, a song, and in the latter, a supporting role. She [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content