14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
This is a tough film to review because our "Machine Gun Preacher" was a violent person in the opening scenes. I know there are many moviegoers who would be inspired by this film but they will have to endure that first half hour. I guess you can't see what our hero has become until you see what he has been, so this R-rated film contains gunfire, disturbing images, drug use and lots of profanity.
Real-life Sam Childers served as the consultant, which is a fictionalized account of his headstrong, passionate and unusual life. Childers was a biker, a felon, and a drug-dealing addict who became a Christian crusader dedicated to saving hundreds of children in the Sudan who, if they were lucky enough to survive, were handed AK 47s and forced to serve as soldiers. His mission to save children is no longer limited to one country. He has centers in several African countries, plus in the United States. (Google Sam Childers) I hasten to emphasize, Childers' endeavors are humanitarian, NOT religious. He says, "You don't ask a hungry child who he worships."
These actors portray real people:
*Gerard Butler ("Phantom of the Opera") is Childers. Butler does a masterful job showing us the arc of Sam's early violent life followed by his conversion to Christ, and then his rage at the treatment of the children in the Sudan.
*Michelle Monaghan ("Source Code") plays his wife, a former stripper named Lynn, who, in my opinion, is truly Sam's anchor. Without Lynn's tough love and staunch support, his efforts would have collapsed long ago.
*Kathy Baker ("Seven Days in Utopia") is Daisy, the ever-lovin' Mama who swapped the gun in Sam's belt for a Bible....
*Michael Shannon ("Revolutionary Road") is Donnie, the ne'er-do-well brother who can't seem to get his bearings. This Oscar-nominated actor is so good it's spooky.
Director Marc Forster ("The Kite Runner") knows how to work with children so we know this inspiring story is in good hands. Script writer Jason Keller spent a year traveling with Childers and accumulating stories from his legendary life. This script compresses about 30 exciting years into a two-hour movie.
It is obvious that not only is Sam passionate about his work, but scriptwriter Keller too, has become evangelistic about helping the innocent victims of this senseless slaughter. I have asked Amazon.com to notify me when this DVD becomes available.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Amazon Instant Video
This movie falls in between the cracks due to harsh language in the beginning and some gore, and the generally positive (but also critical) portrayal of Christianity on Childers. Plus a reminder of the ongoing atrocities the UN is doing nothng about. That's why it didn't last long in the theaters, I would guess.
Childers is leading a pretty bad life when a traumatic incident makes him realize he has to change. He finds salvation in Christ, and things turn around. He is confronted with the sufferings inflicted by Kony and friends, and goes to the Sudan to do something to help, building an orphanage and feeding the victims.
What do you do when helpless children are being kidnapped and turned into murdering monsters or killed? What do you do when these kidnapping cowards bring the fight to your gates, destroying their safe haven besides?
Childers decides he has to fight back - using bullets and the occasional RPG. And this is what makes this movie interesting. What should he do? What should Christians do? Is "turn the other cheek" for when you're slapped, or also when other innocents are being slapped around?
We see his frustration when fellow Christians back home seem indifferent to the horrors he has seen - at least, where their pocketbooks are concerned. He begins to focus on the Sudanese to the neglect of his family. Right or wrong? Is his daughter right to fret over Dad's refusal to spring for a limo for her formal when kids in the Sudan are getting hacked to death and blown up? We are not told if he shares these sufferings with his family; the movie portrays him as keeping it to himself.
One reviewer mentions some scenes thrown in for dramatic effect, such as his crisis of faith, turning instead to himself to solve these problems. I don't know if this is true, but be aware of this possibility.
In the end, it's a powerful, disturbing, and stirring movie. At the very least it may spur you to help financially by donating to organizations such as Angels in Africa.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2012
I'd seen the trailers and read press releases for this movie. It didn't prepare me at all for what I was about to experience.
Machine Gun Preacher is the story of Sam Childers, fictionalized for a broader audience and appeal. Sam was once an ex-con, drug addict, and all around bad dude.
Upon his release from prison, he finds out his wife had become a Christian. Little did he know how upside down his world was about to become.
Gerard Butler did a fantastic job playing Sam as he went on his journey. You could see the pain in his eyes, the desire to do good, and the destruction it can sometimes bring.
Michelle Monaghan was good as the wife of Sam. She portrayed the hurt and despair as she seen her husband slip further and further away as he attempted to help the children of the Sudan.
I began watching the movie knowing the background and story. Yet I wasn't expecting the language, yes there is quite a bit of swearing, sexuality, and more in the movie. But that was okay. It setup the story and didn't hold back. If you're not okay with hearing and seeing these types of situations, you may have to pass by this convicting movie.
When you watch this movie, I feel you will be changed. You'll see a different side of the world we live in. One where pain and abuse are common place. Few men dare to go there. And yet Sam did.
If you're anything like me, you'll find a renewed, or new, desire to step up and do something about the atrocities happening in our world. That's what I feel the movie set out to accomplish and it did.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2012
Machine Gun Preacher is one of those movies that sneaks up on you, grabs your heart, and doesn't let go. Going into this movie, I'm a bit embarrassed to say I not only hadn't heard of Sam Childers and his work over in Sudan and Uganda, but had no idea who Joseph Kony was, the leader of the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army). But I guess that is the point of movies like this-- to educate and inform people about very serious current issues going on in the world. As a blogger, a teacher, and the type of person that is not afraid to speak my mind, I knew before the end credits rolled that I would be reviewing Machine Gun Preacher and dedicating the post to the children of Uganda and Sudan and to spread awareness so that Kony's reign of terror will end.
Gerard Butler does a great job portraying Sam Childers, former drug dealer, heroin addict, motorcycle misfit whose first moments on the screen is him being released after doing a stint in prison. I like the fact that the movie doesn't try to sugarcoat how Sam used to be--you can add verbally abusive to his wife and not much of a father figure to his daughter to the list. But after a life changing incident, he allows his wife to clean him up and take him to the church that helped her find God (she was also a former addict & stripper).
Now many may think this movie is "preachy" since it shows Sam being baptized and he later builds his own church--but I'm setting the record straight, this movie's agenda is not to "convert" or "recruit" people to Christianity. This is not a film in the fashion of Fireproof and Courageous. The solid R rating should attest to that. But Sam IS a born again Christian and the movie IS about his life, so of course it's going to play an important part of the film. I just wanted to clear the air for those people that may have been thinking about skipping the film because they thought Machine Gun Preacher was going to be "preachy".
I don't want to give too much away as far as describing specific scenes since I think this movie is much more effective by watching it with your own eyes, but let me say there are definitely some shocking moments when Sam is over in Africa. Children being maimed, tortured, burned, children forced to kill other children, etc. The one scene I will divulge that pissed me off-- as it did Sam-- was actually the scene where he asks a rich businessman who praised his work over in Africa, for $5,000 which would help keep the orphanage running for another 6 months. The man invites Sam and his family over to a huge, lavish party where he hands him an envelope. Sam excuses himself to the bathroom, opens it, to find a check for....$150 dollars! WTF?? Sometimes I forget how selfish and self centered people can be!
What kept me from giving this movie a complete 5 star rating was more a directorial/writing/casting issue. The first thing that bothered me was the time transitions or lack there of. In the beginning of the movie, there was a little blurb that popped up to let everyone know what year it was. The rest of the film is not so kind. I'm not saying every scene needed a little blurb to let me know that time had passed, but there were definitely a few awkward time transitions that confused me. Most movies that are based on true stories will say something like, "2 years later" or something to help the viewer acclimate to the time change. In this movie, one minute Paige, Sam's daughter, is 5 years old, then she is suddenly in her young teens. This wouldn't be a big deal but I had to rewind it because while everyone else looked the same, there was an older actress playing Paige. I think a little blurb stating that time had passed would have been helpful.
Another awkward scene is when Donnie, Sam's best friend, tries to take over his nightly duties as a father. It's sweet that while Sam was over in Africa, Donnie would keep an eye on Lynn and Paige. But there is just this part where Donnie is telling Paige goodnight, and she asks, "Aren't you gonna read me a book?" Followed by her saying her dad normally kisses her on the forehead and he can do that if he wanted to. Now this isn't the 5 year old Paige asking this. It is the 13-14 year old Paige asking. I work with middle/high school kids and...I don't know, I just felt that that particular scene was creepy and awkward. Not many kids that age that I know would ask their dad's friend for a kiss on the forehead. That's just my opinion!
My last issue is a small one, more like a goof. There is a scene where Sam is at the airport to leave for Africa and Lynn, Paige, and Donnie walk him right up to the departing gate. I think everyone knows that doesn't happen anymore, especially after 9/11.
Like I said, these are just minor issues I had. If you plan on buying Machine Gun Preacher, it is due out on dvd and blu-ray on June 5th. When you get your copy, make sure you don't turn the film off right away. While the end credits role, there is some real life photos and footage of the real Sam Childers, his close friends/freedom fights Deng and Marco, etc. For more information on how you can help get involved in the fight against Kony, the evil leader of the LRA, come check out my blog. I have a link on there that will take you to a site so that you can get involved. I am going to end this post with something the real Sam says:
"For me to sit here and give all kinds of excuses to make it right, I can't do. But what I want to ask everyone out there, everyone that has a child, everyone that has a brother, a sister: if your child or family member was abducted today, if a mad man came in, a terrorist came in, abducted your family member or your child and if I said to you I can bring your child home...does it matter how I bring them home?" --Sam Childers
Mia at The Muses Circle (Like my review? Come check out more on my blog! Just do a google search for The Muses Circle!)
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2012
Here is a great story about a real-life person and ongoing social issues. It is about a Pennsylvania biker and former alcohol/drug-addict ex-convict, who is converted to Christianity, goes to Uganda and South Sudan, and decides to dedicate his life to saving children, building an orphanage there. His name is Sam Childers (played by Gerard Butler) and he intends to protect these children, some of whom are abducted by a militant group the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army), and he does so, no matter what it takes.
I will not discuss here the serious issue of "child soldiers" that has been around for many years, a topic that has been also taken up in such films as "Johnny Mad Dog" and "Blood Diamond." Director Marc Forster provides enough information for us to understand what Childers aka Machine Gun Preacher does to rescue the children in the social context of Africa and its political situations. The film includes several action set-pieces in which Childers fights back the attacking soldiers, but I think they are one or two too many. Violence is discreetly presented, but what is suggested is sometimes shocking.
Gerard Butler, charismatic as ever, carries the film throughout almost single-handedly. Audiences may either admire or dislike the character he plays, but either way they will be fascinated by his strong performance. Part shot in South Africa, the on-location photography is credible. Souléymane Sy Savané as Deng, a Sudanese telling Sam the harsh reality of his land is impressive.
But most supporting characters are underwritten. It seems the subplot of Sam's friend Donnie (talented Michael Shannon, wasted) is heavily shortened, and so does the back story of Sam's wife Lynn Childers (Michelle Monaghan), even though some (including me) may find her character more intriguing than Sam Childers himself. Kathy Baker as Sam's mother is almost non-existent.
Based on Sam Childers' memoir "Another Man's War" (which I haven't read), "Machine Gun Preacher" is an average biographical film with a powerhouse performance from the lead. But to really know this complicated character, perhaps we should read the book first.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2012
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
I liked this movie because it shows the passion of a new believer to right a wrong. I also like that he actually did something with his faith although the means by which he righted the wrong may not justify the end.
Though based on a true story we never really know how much the truth has been changed for the sake of the movie.
I appreciate that the hero wasn't portrayed as a perfect "Rambo-like" individual but as a real person who is making mistakes as he is "working out his salvation".
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
I really liked how the story showed the hero's flaws as well as his strengths. Gerard Butler did a great job in the title role.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
Here's a movie I wanted to see from the first time I heard about it. Had made plans to see this in theaters when it was released last fall. It's opening was dwarfed by the simaltaneous opening of Christian movie juggernaut Courageous. Plus, it's limited release meant only major cities even had the film playing. Plans fell through with a buddy of mine for going downtown (Chicago) to see it, so I decided to wait for the dvd. March came, and I prepaid for the expected June release date. Now, here it is August, and I'm just now watching Machine Gun Preacher. And for me, my mixed journey to watch out seems somewhat reflective of the movie itself.
For starters, it's a story quickly told. If you watch the preview, you've basically seen the movie. Beyond that, I must say it's not a movie you "like." It's a movie about real life: with parts that tug on your heart with their life-likeness; others that bewonder you with their clicheness; and of course a few that inspire you with their true story-telling, even if they were done Hollywood.
I don't think this movie is for everyone. The elements of the story seem all too familiar for jaded Western viewing: African orphans, poverty, sole American hero. Even some parts of the story can seem repetitive. But you know what, life can be repetitive. Life can also be inspiring and cliche and heart-tugging. So for that, I applaud Machine Gun Preacher; it really is lifelike.
The real meat of the movie lies in the character development of Sam. His metamorphasis is brilliant. We watch him go from ruthless sinner to saint to near insanity, as he becomes gripped by his cause. I wouldn't have made all the choices Sam did, but then again, thousands of orphans in Africa wouldn't be alive today if Sam acted like I would have. And herein is the beauty of Machine Gun Preacher. It tells its story as it happened: good, bad, and ugly. In that right, it reminds me of an Old Testament account, like that of David or Abraham or Jacob. These men did amazing things for the Kingdom of God and for the communities around them, and yet they have bad marks on their records; they weren't perfect, and the Bible lets us know that. It tells their stories as they happened: good, bad, and ugly...cliche, inspiring, and emotional. Because life is like that. One minute things are all too familiar with monotony and routine and the next minute everything is different; and even if that same thing has happened to everyone you know, it's new to you because it's the first time it has happened to you. So life can be cliche and yet heart-tugging at the same time. And so can Machine Gun Preacher.
Asthetically, Gerard Butler is clearly the star, and he does a fine job acting. Other notables include: the one little kid with the scar on his face and Gerard's wife. Most of the other character seemed pretty stock for the roles they had to play, and though they did them relatively well, there is nothing worth mentioning. Good cinematography and great musical score too (check out Revival by Soulsavers). The first twenty minutes or so has some rough scenes, so be forewarned. Also, there are several violent scenes showing the African warzones and its victims throughout the film. Nothing is gratuitous though some of it is very graphic.
Best line in the movie is when Sam, the main character, reflects on the violence and suffering in Sudan: "I'm scared that one day I'll close my eyes to all this and make it somebody else's problem."
All in all, the film is worth one watch; not a lot of replay value, perhaps a second and third viewing only to fully appreciate the character development (or to keep your heart stirred if you're wired that way).
4 out 5.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I am a huge Gerard (Jerry) Butler fan and have loved him since Phantom of the Opera! In Machine Gun Preacher he plays Sam, a rough and tumble criminal who is hooked on drugs and upon getting out of jail finds out his wife has found God! She goes to church and supports him no matter what kind of trouble he gets in. I spent half the movie wondering if she was completely in love with him or just dumb. They say that behind every good man is a great woman and her constant support brings him to church where he finds the strength to finally turn his life around. He is Mr. Upstanding citizen helping others and suddenly running to East Africa to help rebuild. Before you know it he has taken children in and all the kids know him. He comes home and builds a church and travels back to Africa to fight against Joseph Kony's slaughtering army.
Jerry does a great job as usual but like I said, I am a big fan. The story is interesting and at times horrifying even more so knowing it is a true story. If all it does is entertain that will be the minimum. Hopefully it will draw more to know and hopefully fight against the onslaught of humanity going on around the world. So much innocence lost. But if nothing else, this film shows that we should never give up on anyone because everyone can turn their life around if they choose to.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
I went into this movie, not knowing it was based on a reasonably 'true' story so I was delighted that it wasn't some shoot them up type flick.
Gerard Butler is convincing with is convictions and the base story line is one that is very sad. Being that it is, you get to a feeling of 'reality' in this film with good character development and cinematography.
It wasn't what I thought and I was pleasantly surprised.