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The production and editing is uneven, nothing that a few more million in the budget couldn't have cured though. The basics are all there... Strong acting, all characters completely believable and authentic. The church scenes could be a lot better, and 20 minutes of general mediocrity could easily be trimmed out. Nonetheless, a powerful based-on-facts story. A couple of scenes are among the best I've ever seen... like near the end when the scarred-cheek boy finally speaks... deeply moving! Michael Shannon is one of my fave B-list actors and is very strong and multi-layered in his supporting role. Make sure to watch the actual footage of Sam Childers at the end as the credits roll. Overall, a strong 5 stars from me for the breadth of human-experience covered. Not many films cover SO much territory. It's better and deeper than the chintzy title suggests!
Reviewed in the United States on February 23, 2018
Here we go again Gerard Butler outdid himself with this character. The movie is about a man who in the beginning is let out of prison for drugs and trouble making. Coming home he finds his wife has changed. Coming home he finds his wife has changed. She is no longer the breadwinner of the family as her previous occupation was stripper and all that it entails. Gerard character wants her to go back to stripping and she refuses because she is a model mother of church going status and more interested in raising her children with out the influence of their never to do well dad. His wife finally convinces him to attend church with her and the children. and in doing so He has an epiphany while attending church to help the children of East Africa. After witnessing unspeakable horrors faced by innocent children he vows to save them at any cost, including his own safety. Gerard character Sam Childers begins waging a relentless battle against the territory's renegade militia, leading harrowing missions behind enemy lines to rescue kidnapped orphans and restore peace to their lives and eventually his own.
Watch this film to give you inspiration on how to right wrongs in the world. This is one Protestant pastor I respect. He knew that mere passive prayers and being couch potatoes don't solve anything. He did what must have been done to protect vulnerable strangers in a country that wasn't his own. The man put his faith in ACTION! He saved countless innocent lives from radical terrorists of another mindless Protestant sect in Africa. The terroristic LRA was influenced by 'sola scriptura' and mad American Pentecostalism and gave excuses for their wanton murders.
Reviewed in the United States on February 24, 2020
At first I wondered if I could keep watching. The "f" word was too much. But I see now how that was real for Sam at that point in time. It's just not my life or of those I know so it makes me cringe. But I knew eventually Sam Childers became a new man so I stayed with it. And glad I did; not an easy watch; it's real, gritty, and even violent (but not for "entertainment"). This sears one's soul; you know it's real, and takes place for so many even today. Uganda holds a special place in my heart bc of a mission there where we sponsor some children. The poverty and living conditions are staggering. Without help most children are doomed. Uganda is a poor nation who stuggles with their own and trying to deal with the influx of poor Sudanese fleeing the killers who terrorize their nation. This man saw a need, and couldn't look away. I understand his intolerance for prom limos when he's seen people who have nothing. Children make their own entertainment out or nothing. They appreciate these least little things. Loved the photos at the end credits, etc. Almost missed them. Gerard Butler was outstanding in his role; better reviewers than I have eloquently described how he showed us the soul of Sam Childers.
compared to what this film documents. Don't turn away if you have heard this is a Christian movie (which it is). It is a primal story of good and evil, and because the evil is Muslim extremists murdering (and worse) Christians Hollywood liberals pretty much buried this film with a limited release, what we used to call "straight to video". I don't know the story of how it got made, but that in itself is miraculous and it deserves your support. Butler conveys the magnetic, broken, tortured Childers with utter conviction. This is not an easy film to watch, I had to break it up over several days. It is a thousand times better than that pile of dung "Unbroken" (though that story was equally worth telling). Please support this film by watching it and encouraging your friends to watch it. Think about what it means. We thought we were safe on our little island America but the truth is we are not safe and we need to wake up.
I am always looking on Amazon to see what might be a good Movie to watch.. I've passed over this a few times, but decided to watch it. Even though it is 4 years later, this Movie is now firmly planted in my top 5 favorite movies. Yea, the acting was good, Some very disturbing scenes, but the hard fact is that it was not some plot that was made up, but an actual true story. This is one of those stories that you don't hear very often about, a drug addict, drinking ex-con who found God and then God used him to become hope for 1000's of Children in Sudan. I would also suggest you watch the documentary of Sam, also here on Amazon.. I was glued to the screen just waiting for the "what's going to happen next".. Excellent movie for those that like the story of someone who hits bottom, but then fights their way back. And to Sam, the world needs more people like you, Fearless and unshaken from their cause. That is how change happens.
I'll come clean. My husband now knows that his wife is unashamedly in love with Gerard Butler. Some might call me misguided but I like him - a lot.
I bought this before it was available in Australia and I wanted to see why Gerard Butler had cut his fee for this movie as well as co-produced it. Say what you want, but if Gerard Butler likes a project he seems to be 110% behind it. He researched the role, spent time with the real Sam Childers and really believed in the story. I'm not sure why people constantly think Butler should be doing roles like "300" all the time but he makes movies he believes in and with this one, I believed in it too.
It may seem far-fetched that a guy turns his life around from being a jailed druggie to finding God and then going to Africa to help people. Yes, it does seem the stuff Hollywood stories are made of but this is real.
Childers is portrayed by a man a lot more handsome than he is in real life but the passion is undeniable. We see people going abroad as missionaries be they Christian or even Mormon to spread the word about Jesus and we don't think anything of it. However, if that person turns out to be a reformed drug addict and one-time jailbird, we seem to manage to pour scorn on this and this may be the reason the movie didn't do as well as it could have. Maybe Butler didn't fully explore the character or perhaps the movie could have been longer to allow more character development, who knows?
The final scenes are where we are seeing not just Sam Childers, but I also believe we are seeing the real Gerard Butler. The joy on those childrens' faces when they understand that they are safe is wonderful and it shows Butler really enjoying himself playing football with them.
We may not agree with Childer's methods but he deserves to have his story heard. I certainly look forward to any chance I may have to hear him speak.
The movie is entertaining and I did wonder how it was going to end and although the ending looked nice and pat, we can only hope that the real camp itself enjoys peace and stability.
5.0 out of 5 stars... be able to stop thinking about it for a good few hours after you've seen it
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 11, 2014
This film is so full of emotions you won't be able to stop thinking about it for a good few hours after you've seen it. I brought this film, not knowing who Sam Childers was, and because I admire Gerard Butler. This film shows you a charcter at his worst, and his best. There are people who feel the real Sam Childers walked into a situation he shouldn't have, their are others who believe he really has saved so many, and continues to do so. I think the transformation of the character in this film is astonishing and I cried throughout this film at Gerard Butlers portayal of Sam Childers.
This is not a film you watch just to stare at Gerard Butler for 2 hours. This is a film that says yes this is based on a real person and their real actions. It wakes you up to the real world and the horrific things that have happened and still do happen in Africa and other areas of the world, and you cannot believe the cruelty and suffering that some people face on a daily basis. The film shows some of these horrors, but without being too horrible to watch, but they are shown with enough strength to make you realise that the situations were not easy to stomach.
When Gerard Butler - playing Sam Childers, decides to help the situation in Sudan, I was amazed at the strength he had whilst facing the horrors of war in Africa, and the suffering. HIs ability to provide help to so many was truly moving. The children stole this film, and I thought they were all amazing.
My only personal upset was I felt that Sam did seem to "Forget" his wife and child in America, and instead became so thrown into "Helping" that he seemed to let go of his family and that made me sad for them. I felt his wife and daugther were left to get on with things whilst he went back to help in Africa. Obviously Sam didn't want his family to be put into danger, or to let them see how things were in Sudan, but he left them too much for my liking.
This film probably didn't get the publicity it deserves because of the subject matter it contains. It's not a rom com, or super hero movie, its a portrayal of real events and people. Gerard Butler was superb, as were the other cast members. I very moving film, and although difficult to watch in places I am so glad I have seen this film. I hope you enjoy it too.
Let's be clear about one thing- Sam Childers the man played by Gerard Butler is not a good man. He's a violent foul mouthed ex drug addict, ex wife beater, ex con who rediscovered his humanity and went to Africa to build a village. Once there a trip into war torn Southern Sudan introduced him to the realities of child soldiers and the violence perpetrated by the so called Lord's Resistance Army led by the charismatic and clearly psychotic Joseph Kony. Does this change Sam- yes in lots of ways. He learns to care about other people and finds the passion and drive that has been missing from his life. It doesn't stop him being violent- instead he channels it into waging war on the LRA and rescuing the children. He kills because it is the only way to stop others killing- a morally ambiguous argument at the best of times. Now to the film which tells this often grim and upsetting story. Gerard Butler plays the bad and good sides of Childers with real passion. His transition from sinner to born again preacher is a bit too easy and superficial but the scenes in Sudan and Uganda are heartbreaking and heartwarming by turns. It is Butler's best performance since 300 and he clearly put his heart and soul into playing Childers warts and all. He has good support from Michelle Monaghan and Kathy Baker (sadly underused)and Souleymane Sy Savane as the Sudanese soldier he befriends and who helps defend the orphanage he builds. A good film that just misses out on being great by the sometimes superficial script and disjointed story telling. Nevertheless it has haunted me since seeing it. It is well worth a couple of hours of our time if only to remind us of an all but forgotten conflict that has already claimed over 400,000 lives and seen 40,000 children abducted.
"Machine Gun Preacher" is a surprisingly good film-a true story-based on the adventures of Sam Childers in Southern Sudan.The film starts with Childers (played by Gerard Butler) emerging from prison and immediately going back to his hell raising ,violent ways.However his born again Christian wife persuades him to turn to Jesus and after doing so he travels to Africa to do some outreach work. Eventually Childers ,with a gun in one hand and a Bible in the other, decides to set up an orphanage in a South Sudanese war zone and is prepared to go to any lengths to defend it. Meanwhile back in Pennsylvania Childers has built a church and he spends time there preaching supported by his wife and child. The film shows the barbarism of this nasty war very well and one can understand why Childers behaves like he does , but I couldnt see how he could reconcile his violence with the pacifism of the Christian gospel. Not much turning of the other cheek in this film. That said Childers does more good in helping save the lives of African children than any number of Christian missionaries, so it is hard to condemn him.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 15, 2012
Gerard Butler does an excellent job of portraying a pivotal part of the life of Sam Childers, a real life hero who I have met in person recently. And I might add, endorses this movie. It compresses the part of his life where Sam was spiritually transformed from a violent drug dealing felon to a flawed but altruistic rescuer of orphans in the Sudan. Although the subject matter is raw and often violent the movie does not dwell on graphic images but does not skate over it. The scenes were included to enhance the story rather than to titillate the viewer. Gerard Butler is a consummate actor and one I think is perfectly chosen for the role. He is one of only a handful who can convincingly play such raw emotion without looking like a wuss and still be believable. I highly recommend this movie for many reasons, for the GB fans, for the story content, and because this is based on a true story. I know it has been Hollywood-ised to some extent but it was never meant to be another Rambo story. I borrowed this movie initially from the local video shop, liked it so much I hopped onto Amazon UK and purchased this. It was delivered from the UK to Australia in just a few days. I was impressed and thrilled to get this BluRay so quickly.