Courageous (film)

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Four police officers in brown uniforms casting long shadows to the foreground, with pictures shown in their shadows
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alex Kendrick
Produced by Stephen Kendrick
Written by Alex Kendrick
Stephen Kendrick
  • Alex Kendrick
  • Ken Bevel
  • Kevin Downes
  • Ben Davies
  • Robert Amaya
  • Renee Jewell
  • Elanor Brown
  • Taylor Hutcherson
  • Angelita Nelson
  • Donald Howze
  • Tony 'T.C.' Stallings
Music by Mark Willard
Cinematography Bob Scott
Edited by Alex Kendrick
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates
  • August 26, 2011 (2011-08-26) (Atlanta premiere)
  • September 30, 2011 (2011-09-30) (United States)
Running time
130 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2 million[1]
Box office $34,522,221[2]

Courageous is a 2011 American independent Christian drama film directed by Alex Kendrick and written by Kendrick with his brother Stephen Kendrick. It is the fourth film by Sherwood Pictures, the creators of Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof. Filming in Albany, Georgia concluded in June 2010. The film was marketed by Sony's Provident Films, which also marketed their previous films.

The film was directed by Alex Kendrick, who co-wrote its screenplay with his brother Stephen Kendrick. Alex Kendrick also stars in the film, along with Ken Bevel, Kevin Downes and Ben Davies. About half of the cast and crew were volunteers from Sherwood Baptist Church, while the remainder were brought on through invitation-only auditions.

The film was produced with a budget of $2 million, but on its opening weekend it grossed $2 million in pre-sales alone and grossed $9.1 million total for the weekend. It grossed a total of $35.2 million, over 17 times its budget. The film opened to mixed reviews from critics, but received a rare A+ CinemaScore rating from filmgoers.[3]


Nathan Hayes (Ken Bevel) is at a gas station in Albany, Georgia, trying to clean his windshield when his truck is stolen. Hayes runs after the truck, clinging to the side and fighting the thief through the open window. Hayes is then thrown from the truck and it crashes into a tree. The perpetrator escapes, and Hayes is shown in pain and struggling to get to his truck. Bystanders tell him not to worry about the vehicle but he is not concerned about the vehicle at all and opens the back door to reveal his infant son, crying in his car seat, apparently unharmed.

After bystanders call an ambulance, the police also arrive. Adam Mitchell (Alex Kendrick) and his partner and best friend Shane Fuller (Kevin Downes) meet Hayes, discovering he will be a new deputy there, having recently moved from Atlanta. Mitchell and Fuller later have a discussion concerning the actions of Hayes and ask each other if they would do the same thing as he did if they were in his shoes.

As the deputies meet, the sheriff encourages them to spend time with their families, citing research that shows fatherless children are several times more likely to get into trouble in life, including crime. Among his deputies is former rookie David Thomson (Ben Davies) who has survived his first year and will partner with Hayes. Mitchell adores his nine-year-old daughter, Emily (Lauren Etchells), but is distant from his fifteen-year-old son, Dylan (Rusty Martin), because Mitchell doesn't share Dylan's interest in 5K runs. Hayes never knew his biological father (who had 6 children with three different women) as his father left the family before he was born, instead treating his neighbor who acted as his mentor as his father (even giving him Father's Day cards annually), but would risk his life to save his three children; however, his teenage daughter Jade (Taylor Hutcherson), resents him because he has a strict policy about dating, as he deems her too young for that. Fuller is divorced, as were his parents, and has joint custody of his son. He gets to see him every other weekend and a third of his paycheck goes toward alimony. Thomson is young and single.

As the four deputies meet over the weekend at a steak cookout, they discuss the sheriff's e-mail and fatherhood. Hayes grew up seeing the consequences of having an absent father and wondered where all the good fathers went. We learn that Fuller's father was an usher at church but his heart was not in it as he would step outside for a smoke once the service started. He even warned him not to drink while holding a can of beer. Fuller, while he still loves him, has a hard time respecting him. Thomson's father split with his mother after an affair and Thomson resigns to accepting divorce as a part of marriage. Hayes disagrees as he views divorce as something that couples purposely include as part of their marriage when it doesn't have to be. Mitchell agrees with Hayes and sees that many couples do not put forth the effort to fight for their marriages. Hayes and Mitchell credit their faith in God for keeping their marriage and family intact (Hayes more than Mitchell). Thomson on the other hand gets a little uncomfortable with the mention of God and tries to defuse the tension by saying that not everyone believes in God and that religion is only one way to keep marriages intact but it doesn't work for everyone.

Javier Martinez (Robert Amaya), an immigrant struggling to provide for his family, is walking down an alley asking God what He wants him to do after being laid off when a construction company went over budget and Mitchell calls him over to help with his shed, thinking he is a different Javier that Mitchell's friend Fuller said would be there. After paying him for the job, Mitchell recommends him to a new full-time job, where he is hired. Meanwhile, Derrick Freeman (David Howze), a teenager who Hayes had earlier disapproved of dating Jade, due to his rude and disrespectful behavior towards Hayes despite Hayes invite for a Sunday lunch to get to know him better, joins a gang involved in drug dealing. The gang leader also happens to be the same individual who tried to steal Hayes' truck at the beginning of the movie.

One tragic day, Emily is killed by a drunk driver, devastating Mitchell and his family and bringing him closer to his son. Following his daughter's death, Mitchell reads a lot about fatherhood in the Bible. He decides he must be a better father and crafts a detailed "Resolution" to honor God in every aspect of his family. Mitchell, Hayes, Fuller, Thomson, and Martinez join him in his resolution at a formal ceremony conducted by Hayes's neighborhood mentor, the man he thinks of as a father. Mitchell rebuilds a relationship with his son by running with him to prepare for the 5K race and receives some relief of his guilt at his daughter's death. He even goes as far as doing his side of the dance with his daughter whom he refused to dance with while she was alive. Hayes mends his relationship with his daughter and presents her with a purity ring that he asks her to wear until she is married. He also visits the grave of his biological father who he had never met and forgives him. Fuller improves his relationship with his son. Thomson reveals to Hayes that he fathered a child in college and deserted the mother after she refused to have an abortion. He lives only 30 minutes away from her but doesn't have the courage to go see them. He feels guilty and Hayes uses the opportunity to witness to him about Christ and shares his testimony. Thomson later writes the mother a letter seeking a relationship with his daughter and encloses some support money. Martinez's factory employer offers him a promotion on the condition that he falsify inventory documents. Martinez refuses, and his boss reveals that the condition was a test of Martinez's integrity, with Martinez being the only one to pass after interviewing 6 previous candidates. The boss promotes Martinez and gives him a raise.

Mitchell discovers that someone has been stealing drugs from police evidence. Mitchell decides he must honor his Resolution and report the corruption. He sets up a sting with help from Hayes leading to Fuller's arrest and imprisonment. Fuller has been stealing drugs to sell on the side and blames his actions on a low salary ($36,000 a year.) Mitchell later breaks the news to Fuller's son and visits Fuller in jail where Fuller takes responsibility for his actions and asks Mitchell to forgive him and be a father figure to his son, which Mitchell agrees to do.

During a minor traffic stop for a blown out taillight, Hayes and Thomson unknowingly confront the armed leader of a gang they have been repeatedly encountering. One of the gang members is Derrick, who stops the gang leader named TJ from shooting Hayes with a shotgun. The incident turns into a roadside gun battle, and TJ attempts to take a young girl hostage to use as collateral. Mitchell and other officers arrive as backup. The girl's father assists Hayes in subduing a suspect, and Mitchell assists in arresting a second suspect. When Deputy Hayes asks, Derrick attributes his reason for being involved with the gang to not having anyone who cares about him.

At a Father's Day church service, the men present the Resolution and Mitchell leads a charge to the fathers in the congregation to be a Godly influence on their families. Mitchell runs in a 5K race with his son and Fuller's son. Hayes reads the Bible in prison with Derrick. Thomson meets his daughter for the first time. The film ends with a quote from Joshua 24:15: "Choose today whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."


  • Alex Kendrick as Adam Mitchell
  • Ken Bevel as Nathan Hayes
  • Kevin Downes as Shane Fuller
  • Ben Davies as David Thomson
  • Renee Jewell as Victoria Mitchell
  • Elanor Brown as Kayla Hayes
  • Taylor Hutcherson as Jade Hayes
  • Robert Amaya as Javier Martinez
  • Rusty Martin as Dylan Mitchell
  • Angelita Nelson as Carmen Martinez
  • Lauren Etchells as Emily Mitchell
  • Donald Howze as Derrick Freeman
  • Tony 'T.C.' Stallings as T.J.
  • Ed Litton as Pastor Rogers



The title and plot of Courageous were announced on November 15, 2009 by Alex Kendrick, Michael Catt, Jim McBride and Stephen Kendrick.[4] Sherwood Pictures stated that "After much prayer, creative brainstorming, more prayer, wise counsel, and still more prayer, Sherwood Pictures is ready to move ahead with their fourth motion picture."[5] Before the announcement, the filmmakers launched, which contained teasers for Courageous.[6] At the time of the announcement, the Kendrick brothers stated that they had completed "about 80 percent of the plot", and they had planned to finish the script by the end of 2009.[7][8]


In preceding Sherwood Pictures films, almost all of the cast and crew were composed of members of Sherwood Baptist Church, with Kirk Cameron being the notable exception with his lead role in Fireproof. For Courageous the producers expanded their search for acting talent. Roughly half of the cast are volunteers from the church, but the other half were through invitation-only audition sessions. The lead roles in the film are played by Alex Kendrick and Ken Bevel, both of whom have appeared in past Sherwood productions. Kevin Downes, who has appeared in various other films, played the role of Shane Fuller. Ben Davies, a student athlete at Samford University, played the role of David Thomson. Tony Stallings, former running back and winner of Animal Planet's King of the Jungle reality show, made his film debut.[9]

The actors were still volunteers. The film would likely have cost several times more if they had used professional assistance. Director Kendrick said, "With volunteers no one is watching the clock and we're all in it together."[10]


Principal photography of Courageous began on April 26, 2010 and concluded on June 25, 2010. The majority of the film was shot in Albany and the Dougherty County, Georgia area. Some scenes were shot in the Dougherty County Jail.[11] More than 170 media outlets, such as Inside Edition, visited the set.[12] The Duggar family from TLC's 19 Kids and Counting were extras during a father-son 5K race. Jim Bob Duggar and seven of his ten sons joined hundreds of other fathers and sons in filming the scene.[13] Their involvement in the film was shown on 19 Kids and Counting[14] in "Duggars go Hollywood". The Duggar daughters acted as extras in a funeral scene at Sherwood Baptist Church that involved several police officers in uniform.

In order to enhance the quality of the film, the production crew is using a new camera technology, "Red One", by the Red Digital Cinema Camera Company. Kendrick estimated the production budget would exceed $1 million — double that of Fireproof.[15] The final budget has been reported at $2 million.[1]



In December 2010, the Motion Picture Association of America rated the film PG-13 for "some violence and drug content".[2] That rating was surrendered a few days later, but was later reinstated. Courageous is the first film by Sherwood Pictures to receive a PG-13 rating.


The contemporary Christian band Casting Crowns released a song titled "Courageous" to promote the film with a video featuring scenes from it.

Tony Dungy, a Super Bowl-winning football coach, mentioned the film in an article he wrote about fatherhood for USA Today. He said, "As men, we could all take a lesson from [the fathers in Courageous] and ask ourselves, 'What can I do today to be a more involved dad?'"[16]

Box office[edit]

Courageous was released on September 30, 2011 to 1,161 theaters,[10] grossing $3.1 million on its opening day and debuting in fourth place with an actual gross of $9,063,147 for the opening weekend,[17] the best opening of all new films released that weekend.[17] It sold over $2 million in pre-sale tickets,[18] the most of the weekend on Fandango, beating out The Lion King 3D, Moneyball, Dolphin Tale, and Drive.[19]

After its opening weekend, Entertainment Weekly wrote, "...Courageous is the real success story of the weekend...Courageous earned a strong $8.8 million, outdoing the $6.8 million opening of Sherwood’s 2008 picture Fireproof, which became the highest-grossing independent film that year with $33.5 million total. Shown in 1,161 theaters (yet, notably, just one theater in Manhattan), Courageous earned the best per theater average of any wide release with a robust $7,580."[1] Courageous beat out all three Hollywood movies which opened on the same weekend: 50/50, What's Your Number?, and Dream House, which were produced with budgets of $8 million, $20 million, and $50 million, respectively.[1] According to Box Office Mojo, its opening weekend ranks fifth all-time among Christian movies, behind The Passion of the Christ and the three Chronicles of Narnia films.[3]

As of December 11, 2011, the film has grossed $33,333,639, over 16 times its budget.[2]

After the Kendrick brothers' previous films were released to DVD following the theatrical run, the film started an international theatrical roll-out which began November 10 in Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand. The film debuted at #18 in Argentina, #16 in Australia and #21 in New Zealand, with weekend opening grosses of $19,536, $107,781, and $10,529 respectively. The film opened in Mexico on December 2, ranking 31st with a total of $6,911 from 15 screens. As of December 4, the international gross for the movie is $219,977.

Critical reception[edit]

The film received mixed reviews from critics, but has received a rare "A+" rating in audience polls conducted by CinemaScore.[3] Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 30% based on reviews from 20.[20] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 42/100 based on 10 reviews.[21]

Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel, gave the film a mediocre review, saying "the film travels far beyond its dramatic climax, aiming for an altar call finale."[22] Kam Williams of NewsBlaze gave the film four stars, saying the film was a "moving, modern parable not to be missed by anyone who's always wondering why they don't make wholesome movies with uplifting messages anymore."[23] Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter said Courageous demonstrated the Kendrick brothers' "growing expertise as filmmakers with its skillful blending of moving drama, subtle comedy and several impressive action sequences, including a well-staged foot chase and a harrowing shootout between the cops and bad guys."[24] Hannah Goodwyn of the Christian Broadcasting Network rated Courageous 3 out of 5, saying "Courageous' biblical message is clear and good. Unfortunately, its delivery is weakened by some rookie acting and excessive dialogue."[25] Adam R. Holz of Focus on the Family Plugged In Online said Courageous has "A compelling story line with plenty of action and just the right amount of humor. The Film underscores the importance of I like how it creatively weaves in the Gospel. I am happily giving Courageous 4.5 shiny badges out of 5 for family friendliness."[26]

Alex Kendrick and Robert Amaya were nominated at the 20th Annual Movie Guide Awards under the category of Most Inspiring Performance in Movies in 2011, with Kendrick winning and the film was named the Most Inspiring Movie of 2011.[27]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 17, 2012 as an "Exclusive Collector's Edition" and was #1 in disc sales in the US the week ending January 22, 2012 according to The Hollywood Reporter.[28] According to the DVD and Blu-ray sales as of May 2015 totaled over $23,000,000.


2012 San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival

   WON- Best of Festival
   WON- Best Feature Film

2012 Epiphany Prize

   WON- Most Inspiring Movie

2012 Grace Award

   WON- Most Inspiring Performance in Movies, Alex Kendrick
   NOMINATED- Most Inspiring Performance in Movies, Robert Amaya

2013 GMA Dove Award

   WON- Inspirational Film Of The Year

Related media[edit]

Two film tie-in books were written for Courageous; “The Resolution for Men” by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, and "The Resolution for Women" by Priscilla Shirer.[29] "Courageous Living" by Michael Catt, "Rite of Passage" by Jim McBride, and a film novelization by Randy Alcorn were also released.


  1. ^ a b c d Box office report: 'Dolphin Tale' jumps into first with $14.2 million; 'Lion King' now 10th highest-grossing film of all time Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "EW" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  2. ^ a b c "Courageous movie info". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 19, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Ray Subers (October 3, 2011). "Weekend Report: 'Dolphin Tale' Leaps Into Lead". Box Office Mojo. 
  4. ^ "'Fireproof' makers to follow up with film on fatherhood". Christian Today. November 16, 2009. Retrieved November 16, 2009. 
  5. ^ Kimball, Josh (November 3, 2009). "'Fireproof' creators to reveal plans for fourth film". Christian Today. Retrieved November 14, 2009. 
  6. ^ Foust, Michael (November 13, 2009). "'Fireproof' makers to announce next movie". Baptist Press. Retrieved November 14, 2009. 
  7. ^ Davis, Rebecca Grace (November 19, 2009). "Sherwood Pictures announces fourth film". OneNewsNow. Retrieved November 20, 2009. 
  8. ^ ""Fireproof" Filmmakers Announce Next Project". KWTX-TV. November 16, 2009. Retrieved November 16, 2009. 
  9. ^ Crawford, Eric (May 12, 2010). "More Tony Stallings, Part 1". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved October 2, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Newcomb, Tim (August 25, 2011). "Faith-Based Filmmaking: The Sherwood Pictures Crusade". Time. Retrieved September 17, 2011. 
  11. ^ Cohilas, Karen (May 10, 2010). "Courageous filming to take place in Dougherty jail". WALB. Retrieved May 10, 2010. 
  12. ^ Wallace, Jim (June 8, 2010). "Sherwood movie shoot continues". WALB. Retrieved June 9, 2010. 
  13. ^ Barnello, Jana (June 8, 2010). "TLC's Duggar family visits 'Courageous' set". Fox 31 News. Retrieved June 9, 2010. 
  14. ^ Wallace, Jim (June 8, 2010). "19 Kids and Counting stars come for Sherwood movie filming". WALB. Retrieved June 9, 2010. 
  15. ^ Parks, Jennifer Maddox (May 12, 2010). "Sherwood Pictures takes 'Courageous' step forward". The Albany Herald. Retrieved October 2, 2011. 
  16. ^ Dungy, Tony (September 30, 2011). "Engaged fathers improve kids' lives". USA Today. Retrieved September 30, 2011. 
  17. ^ a b "Weekend actuals". Boxoffice. October 3, 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Courageous Reaches More Than $2 Million In Pre-Sales". Broadway World. September 29, 2011. Retrieved September 30, 2011. 
  19. ^ Foust, Michael (September 29, 2011). "'Courageous' No. 1 in movie ticket sales". Baptist Press. Retrieved September 30, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Courageous (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved October 20, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Courageous Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2012-01-11. 
  22. ^ Moore, Roger (September 28, 2011). "Movie Review: Courageous". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved September 30, 2011. 
  23. ^ Williams, Kam (September 22, 2011). "Cops Struggle to Juggle Careers and Fatherhood in Faith-Based Family Flick". NewsBlaze. Retrieved September 30, 2011. 
  24. ^ Courageous: Film Review The Hollywood Reporter
  25. ^ Courageous: Christian Movie Review",
  26. ^ Holz, Adam (September 30, 2011). "Movie Reviews Courageous". Focus on the Family. Retrieved September 30, 2011. 
  27. ^ "20th Annual MOVIEGUIDE® Faith & Values Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry Winners List". February 11, 2012. Retrieved November 28, 2012. 
  28. ^ DVD release email
  29. ^ Harrison, Judy (September 29, 2011). "Christian film ‘Courageous’ takes on fatherhood". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved October 2, 2011. 

External links[edit]