Adding an additional layer of relevance to the proceedings, a hard-working immigrant named Javier (Robert Amaya) is also introduced. After getting let go from a construction job when budgets were unexpectedly slashed, he’s left distressed and wondering how he’s going to provide for his young family. Reminded by his wife that the Lord will make a way, a case of mistaken identity quickly leads to a job with Adam, who needs help rebuilding his shed.

No doubt, in an era of particularly disposable entertainment, the efforts behind a film like Courageous are certainly appreciated. Not only has the overall production quality improved considerably from Sherwood’s previous efforts, but the action scenes and several attempts at humor, are a welcome addition. But as much as one wants to applaud a script that wholeheartedly celebrates faith and family, even the least cynical audience member can’t help feeling a bit clobbered over the head with the message.

Pure and simple, the script often lacks subtlety and gravitates toward overly preachy pat answers. For instance, why weren’t Shane and David ever given the opportunity to ask questions or even refute their co-workers’ impassioned beliefs? Certainly, people who respect each other can have a friendly disagreement every now and then, right?

Or how would someone who’s been unemployed for, say, a year or longer, a common reality in our job-challenged world, learn to trust God from seeing Javier’s struggle? After all, his bout with joblessness was practically resolved in five minutes flat. That’s not to say that God can’t—and won’t—work quickly when someone’s in trouble, but these all-too-convenient plot twists don’t often represent what faith in the trenches looks like. Or serve as a model for how to engage people who don’t necessarily share the same beliefs.

Sure, there are some genuinely moving moments in Courageous, particularly the superb opening sequence where a father desperately tries to stop a car-jacking. And later on, it’s virtually impossible not to tear up during the eulogy given at a young girl’s funeral because it’s written—and delivered—in such a heartfelt fashion.

But what ends up hindering the bulk of the script, however, is jargon that will only translate with people who already have a relationship with God. Perhaps, underscoring that best is the film’s final minutes where Alex leads an altar call that ties up all the lessons neatly in a bow, an unnecessary course of action when people should’ve been allowed to draw their own conclusions from a well-told story.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Drinking and smoking is referenced but never shown. Illegal drugs are sold, hidden and even stolen at one point, but drug use is never depicted (only mentioned).
  • Language/Profanity: None.
  • Sex/Nudity: David mentions that he “hooked up” with a cheerleader in college, which resulted in an unplanned pregnancy.
  • Violence: A carjacking is shown. A couple of scenes involve gunfire and main characters in peril. Several dramatic car chases. A teenager is beat up for gang initiation. A young girl is killed in a drunk driving accident, but it happens off-screen.
     

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.