Michael Bresciani
Movie Review: COURAGEOUS -- 'Honor Begins at Home'
By Michael Bresciani
January 27, 2012

Courageous is triumphantly American and unashamedly Christian. The film wreaks havoc on the generally accepted idea that everything that goes wrong with adults can be traced back to bad childhood experiences which then become excuses for the worst behaviors we can produce.

It is the idea of standing up to take responsibility for our actions that compel the principal and lead actor in the movie, Alex Kendrick (Adam Mitchell) to draw others into his decision to put his commitments down on paper and sign them after which they are made public to Church, friends and family.

Kendrick is obviously the anchor in this film, but he catches you off guard because just when you thought he was just some stodgy middle aged cop who lived for the job and a good football game he takes flight. He soars into places a lot of men will never go, and don't even want to think about. He carries the plot from loss, to courage, and then one step further to honor. It is bravery in the long run that Kendrick is after, rather than one single act of heroism followed by a life of ease and past glories.

Three other men are drawn into Adam's plan, they are all Sheriff's deputies like Adam and while they needed a bit of coaxing they decide to sign the act of responsibility along with their co-worker.

The deputies work in the mid-sized city of Albany, Georgia where most of the picture was actually shot. The town is listed as one of the poorest in the United States but has been beautified in the last few years and is home to the Albany Civil Rights Institute. The town has a mixed population of about 77,000 in Dougherty County which has a total population of 96,000, but it has its fair share of gangs, drugs and criminals.

Working the streets along with Adam is Ken Bevel (Nathan Hayes) who previously acted in 'Fireproof.' Hayes plays the part of a boy brought up in foster home that was always looking for a mentor or a father figure. His faith in God became the avenue by which he got connected and God himself became the father he had so desperately been seeking. Nathan is as tough as they get, but he shows a tender and merciful side to his family and anyone in trouble who he sees needs someone to believe in them.

Deputy, David Thomson played by Ben Davies is a rookie, athletic, all American college grad but is unsettled and brooding. Like most young brands he is still a bit selfish and prone to disregard the plight of others. After considering the real meaning of his new commitment he ponders the unresolved matters of his past relationships. When he tries to fix the past he sees that all the athletic prowess in his life could not help him to climb the mountain he is facing. He too resorts to his faith. Some of the most touching scenes in the film are finely executed by this talented new actor.

A third deputy Shane Fuller is played by actor Kevin Downes who is also a director and producer (Like Dandelion Dust) and he plays the role of a divorced father with two boys. He struggles with the commitment he has made and with his own personal weakness and is pulled aside by the desire to take a shortcut to solve his problems. Fuller creates the element of tragedy in the film and his ability to act out the desperate changes that bring him to disaster is performed with compelling artistry that is anything but amateurish.

Joining the deputies in their pledge of honor as a new found friend is Javier Martinez played by Robert Amaya. Amaya is a professional stage actor from Miami who assumes the role of a hard working immigrant who only wants to give his little family the very best life he can. He stumbles into the group of Sheriff's deputies quite by accident, but it is perhaps one of the funniest moments in the film. Javier wins everyone's heart in short time with his childlike approach to life. Yet, because it is so trusting, he seems to fall into good fortune and favor as if God had nothing better to do with himself but to follow Javier around and find ways to bless him. Amaya's acting skills take you up and down the spectrum between sad and uproariously funny which attests to his ability to wield his acting craft as a true and well experienced thespian.

The movie is also graced with supporting actress Renee Jewel (Facing the Giants,) and Eleanor Brown who plays as Nathan Hayes' wife. Angelita Nelson plays the role of Javier's wife and while she is a medical technician from Birmingham, Alabama she has acting skills that add greatly to the film. Rusty Martin Jr. plays as Adam's son who for most of the film seems cast into the background, but before long bursts into the story and into the hearts of the viewers with great gusto.

There is plenty of action in the film that at times does push you toward the edge of your seat. The film crew produced some remarkably well coordinated stunt scenes and the cinematography is a credit to all the crew and techs in this flick.

Courageous is about mustering courage, not to die or face danger, but to live. It is about taking stock and being responsible as an act of courage. It also makes the point that children need fathers to balance their lives and it is a natural God designed way of giving them confidence and becoming complete and productive human beings.

Those who share my belief that everyone in this world is in one way or another looking for their fathers will be delighted with the theme and the execution of this film. Even those who have a good family life will be touched by the message because after all Christ did say, "And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven." (Mt 23: 9)

The film is a Tri-Star release in conjunction with Sherwood Pictures. Michael Catt is the Executive Producer, Jim McBride, Executive Producer, Steven Kendrick is Producer and Co-Writer, and leading man Alex Kendrick is both Director and Co-Writer. (Rated PG)

I always rate films on a scale of one to ten based on see-ability. This one is a solid ten. It is much more than another family film but is geared to single parents, teens and mavericks of all ages. The movie is now available in video stores. Good Watching!

© Michael Bresciani


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