'Courageous' – A Tearjerker to Melt the Hearts of Men

LISLE, Ill. – Cops, gangs, drugs, death and tears? The latest film by Sherwood Pictures – the maker of “Fireproof” and “Facing the Giants” – is a tearjerker that aims at breaking down men and building them back up as “courageous” fathers and husbands.

Mixing typical movie elements that attract male viewers – a car chase scene and action sequences – the film “Courageous” tries to get men into movie theater seats long enough for it to redefine what it means to be a man in the eyes of God.

Ken Bevel, who plays Nathan Hayes, one of the four leads, shared that in real life he is the product of an alcoholic and drug using father who left the family when he was a baby.

“He (the father) never showed me how to be a man or what it is to even be a man,” said Bevel at the pre-screening of “Courageous” at the Evangelical Press Association’s conference earlier this year. “God [through the film] is going to grip the hearts of men and the hearts of women and say, ‘You know what, there is a better way.’”

“Courageous” follows the lives of four law enforcement officers – Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes, David Thomson, and Shane Fuller – as they commit to being better fathers and godly men after Mitchell experiences a tragic family accident. Spurred by regret, Mitchell receives pastoral counseling and begins researching on what the Bible says about being a father and a man.

What results is a resolution signed by the four officers and their friend, Javier Martinez, in which they promise before God to “take full responsibility” for their wife and children. More specifically, they pledge to remain faithful to their wife and love her as Jesus Christ loves them, to teach their children to love God, to work diligently to provide for their family, and honor authority, among other things.

“God calls Himself our father and … a father is supposed to represent the Lord to his children,” explained Stephen Kendrick, co-screenwriter of “Courageous,” at the movie’s announcement in 2009. “[But] we often say that the fathers in this generation are misrepresenting God and children are growing up thinking that God is like their earthly father.”

The theme of fatherhood was chosen after the movie’s creators discovered that some 24.7 million American children live without their biological fathers. They also pointed to federal government statistics that reveal that 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children, and 85 percent of all youths in prisons come from fatherless homes.

“Courageous” includes characters who are orphans, born out of wedlock, and whose parents are divorced. The film tugs at heartstrings by showing realistic family situations and their detrimental effects on not only the children involved but also on the conscience of the fathers.

Compared to previous Sherwood films, “Courageous” is cinematically much more attractive and advanced but still retains its trademark sincerity and poignant biblical message.

The film opens in some 1,100 theaters nationwide Friday.

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