"If the opening scene captures the [viewers] interest in some unique way, it is called the hook. Otherwise, it's just the opening scene" (The Screenwriter's Bible, 5th Edition by David Trottier, p. 11).
The opening scene of Courageous definitely had a hook. When the scene wrapped, I gasped, "Wow! Oh. my. goodness!" It grabbed my attention and pulled me into the story.
Made by the the creators of Facing the Giants, Courageous is a faith-based film about four law enforcement officers sworn to serve and protect the citizens of Albany, Georgia. In their line of duty they witness situations they feel could be avoided if a stronger father-figure had been present in the lives of those involved. Then tragedy strikes close to home, and the men take a vow to make their roles as fathers a priority.
Courageous has plenty of humorous every-day-life moments too. Funny situations and jokes weave throughout the side-lines of the characters lives. For instance, Adam Mitchell (Alex Kendrick) accidentally tells his boss, "I love you," as he hangs up the phone. My husband relates to that scene, having confessed his love to an insurance agent at the end of a phone conversation. And I can relate...maybe...a little (ahem) to Javier (Robert Amaya) kindly turning down his wife's kiss because her morning breath smells too foul.
I'm amazed at the excellent filmmaking, acting, and action (car chases, gun fights) packed into the low-budget film. Sherwood Pictures only had an estimated budget of $2,000,000 (a great deal more than the $10,000 budget of Facing the Giants, but still considered low-budget by Hollywood standards) yet it sure didn't seem like they scrimped on quality. I admire their work, and would love to meet the filmmakers (seriously!) to learn how they pull off such fine films with such small funding.
What worked: Strong hook in the opening scene; believable characters; realistic humor; value-driven message; and quality filming.
What didn't work: (I'm thinking. I'm thinking.)