Okay so this isn’t exactly a new release but it’s something I’ve wanted to watch since first hearing about it and I haven’t got round to doing so until now. Machine Gun Preacher starring Gerard Butler is based on the incredible true story of Sam Childers, former outlaw biker turned Christian missionary who builds and maintains an orphanage in South Sudan.
I won’t give away too much about the plot but I will say that this film depicts much more of a “true story” than The Possession (obviously). I don’t know much about Sam Childers or how honestly his story has been portrayed in the film but after a bit of web research, from what I can tell the fundamentals are there. I found it very interesting that the world’s most-wanted, Joseph Kony, is mentioned a few times in the film who is someone I hadn’t heard about until the big campaign against him that happened a few moths ago. In fact Kony has an unseen role as the mysterious and notorious bad-guy. Apart from the truthfulness of the film the next best bit is that it isn’t predictable, and I didn’t feel the urge to try to guess what would happen next, I was happy to go with the flow which for me doesn’t happen often.
Gerard Butler played the part of Sam Childers very well and I can’t think of a different actor that could have done it better. My reasons being that firstly only Gerard Butler can pull off the rugged dangerous biker look and transform into a missionary. Secondly, although what Sam does for the African children makes him worthy of being a saint, Butler doesn’t let us forget that he wasn’t and still isn’t (in the film at least) a very nice person. In the beginning of the film he almost brutally murdered a man, and even after converting to Christianity he was close to having a relapse and going back to his old ways. However the audience still admire him for what he does for the children, he quite literally puts everything into his cause. Yet the admiration and respect isn’t necessarily enough to like him, doing nice things doesn’t always make you a nice person and Butler keeps this in mind when playing the role.
The character that Michelle Monaghan plays, Lynn Childers (which she does excellently), seems to have an unlimited source of loyalty to her husband which considering the circumstances is slightly absurd. She was there waiting for him when he got out of prison and she was still waiting for him while he was building the orphanage and fighting the LRA (the Lord’s Resistance Army). Now and again you would see her and Sam on the phone while he’s away but this wasn’t often and when it was they sounded like they hadn’t spoken in days. If it were me I’d be calling my wife everyday to at least let her know I was safe. however I don’t think that this is something that can be fixed. Obviously she has to stay his wife to keep it true to the real-life story but if they put any more emphasis on the relationship and how hard it must have been then the film would have been far too long.
The good thing in particular about this film is that there was enough action to keep it entertaining and enough drama to keep it gripping, with a perfect balance between the two. The title might suggest to some people, that this film is all about the machine gun as it did for another review I read here. But it’s not, if you want lots of violence then go watch Rambo. Let me say that I got exactly what I was expecting from this film and I was not disappointed, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you haven’t already seen it. This film is a brilliant drama like others that have also been set in Africa, such as Blood Diamond and The Constant Gardener, it is up there with some of the best modern dramas.
Machine Gun Preacher offers a look at just how evil humans can be to one another but it also shows the passion with which one good-hearted man fights against that evil. The film is gripping and emotional with a good choice of actors. Do we shoot director Marc Forster? No, he’s made a very good film, shoot Joseph Kony instead!
Overall Rating: 7/10
|Souleymane Sy Savane||…||