Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Courageous Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Despite violence, Christian fatherhood drama is uplifting.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 130 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 16 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 35 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

There are many family-centered positive messages about the importance of being a "present" father who doesn't just go through the motions but really takes his job as a father seriously. Javier puts his morals and his family first, even if it could cost him a job. In the aftermath of tragedy, Adam dedicates himself to becoming a better father. David decides to accept responsibility for the child he never met.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Adam, Javier, and Nathan are admirable men who believe that their role as fathers is sacred. Javier is hardworking, honest, and a committed family man. Almost all of the criminals depicted in the movie are African American.


A few tense and disturbing sequences, from the opening scene in which Nathan follows his car-jacked truck in order to rescue his baby, to a long chase on foot between the cops and a couple of suspects that ends in a fist fight. A teenage boy is repeatedly beaten during a gang initiation. A cop uses a Taser to subdue someone. In a climactic cops vs. gang members scene, a criminal grabs a young girl as a hostage. A child is heartbreakingly killed (off camera) in an accident.


Married couples embrace; a girl is asked out by an interested guy. A man explains that his father had children with six different women; another reveals that, during a one-night stand in college, he fathered a child he's never met.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A police officer is shown stealing drugs (white powder) that are supposed to be entered into evidence. Gang members discuss an upcoming drug deal, and one tries to get rid of his stash.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie, which was produced by the same Protestant church that made Fireproof, is equal parts message movie and Evangelical ministry tool. Consequently, the story focuses on themes about conversion to Christianity and being a good, godly father. There's no language or sex, but there's more violence/peril than in similar films -- the cop protagonists engage in chases and skirmishes with suspects that end in fight fights and, in one case, a child being temporarily taken hostage at gunpoint. Tragedy strikes the central family, and one cop's baby is nearly kidnapped when his truck is car jacked. Because of the grown-up themes that focus on the nature of fatherhood and following God's path as a parent, this isn't a movie that will appeal to kids; it's aimed at the men, particularly dads, in the audience.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byKMM5 April 23, 2014

Know your child

My daughter had a hard time with it. There are several life circumstances that she hadn't thought of and wasn't quite ready for. She also had a hard t... Continue reading
Adult Written byFather of Six November 15, 2011


In short, this movie sends a bullet to the heart of a critical problem in this country. The lack of Godly leadership from men in their own homes directly affec... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old February 1, 2012

Complete and honest review of Courageous

Ok I don't have much time, and you probably don't either so let's get this over with-

Sex- Hugging, a girl is asked out by a boy, one man admits... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bybiovox14 December 19, 2016

Why only 3 stars?

Ok so this has absolutely no sex, violence is in context, no language, some drug content, but again, in context. This is a great film and all Christians (and no... Continue reading

What's the story?

Adam (Alex Kendrick) is a police officer in a small Georgia town. When Nathan (Ken Bevel) transfers to the squad from a bigger city, the two of them and their partners, Shane (Kevin Downes) and David (Ben Davies), form an easy friendship centered around work and socializing with their families. After a tragic accident strikes Adam's family, he's at first distraught; but then he decides to study the Bible for enlightenment about what it takes to a righteous father. After weeks of research and prayer, Adam creates a special contract that he plans to sign to as a sacred oath. His friends agree to join him -- even David, who isn't a Christian at the start of the movie. Just as the four men are settling into their renewed roles as godly fathers, one of them compromises himself -- and forces his colleagues to decide whether to cover for him or keep him accountable to their shared oath.

Is it any good?

In some ways, this is the best film produced to date by Kendrick and the other filmmakers at Sherwood Baptist Church. The production values are good, a couple of the actors -- particularly Bevel and Davies -- seem like pros, and they're obviously using their profits from Fireproof to up the ante here. But for secular audiences or those who don't already believe in the Evangelical idea of what constitutes a good Christian family, the movie could be off-putting once the focus shifts to Adam's mission in the second half.


It's not that the plot isn't touching or the message inspiring -- every man should aspire to be a wonderful, loving father who puts his children first, even when it's not convenient. But so much of the film feels like an invitation not just to church but to a very specific kind of Christianity that it's hard not to feel preached to, even though there are some genuinely poignant moments. Ultimately the appeal here is for those who already believe, in which case the movie is a call to action and reaffirmation to be the ideal Christian father.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes a good father. What does this movie teach about the meaning of fatherhood? Does that match your own experience?

  • Do you have to be a Christian to understand or appreciate what this movie is saying about fatherhood and life in general?

  • Do you think the violent/tense scenes were necessary to the story? Why or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love their dad

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