Machine Gun Preacher (2011)
Directed by Marc Forster
Starring: Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Kathy Baker, Michael Shannon
This is the most recent film by the same director who brought us The Kite Runner and Monster’s Ball. This time Marc Forster took on another tough subject with Machine Gun Preacher, a bio pic based on the work of Sam Childers. Playing Childers is Gerard Butler (300), who works alongside Michelle Monaghan (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), Kathy Baker (Edward Scissorhands), and Michael Shannon (8 Mile).
Sam Childers (Gerard) has had his share of trouble, his addiction has landed him in and out of trouble over and over again. When he finds God, Sam looks to help people who can’t help themselves and heads to Africa. Once there he finds himself more dedicated than he ever thought he could be. With his wife (Monaghan) behind him, Sam begins to build a refuge for the victims of a brutal conflict. This effort is met with danger as the warlords seek to stop his efforts to end the violence and free child soldiers. As he returns to Africa again and again, Sam is looking for redemption for himself as he tries to save people he has grown to love.
When I first saw the title of this movie I thought it sounded like a great Robert Rodriguez film. Something with vampires and Satan somehow involved in an effort to kill Gerard Butler. Maybe a From Dusk Till Dawn situation could be happening. What I got was something far deeper and emotionally powerful. As someone who’s lived in Africa, this movie hit the mark in terms of the atrocities occurring over there.
Despite the real issues and drama surrounding this story, the movie falls a bit short of the mark. I can’t blame the acting, Butler and Monaghan do a great job anchoring the film which features a lot of talent. Part of it is the amount of time they tried to squeeze into the film. Despite being a true story, this movie needed to work on being more concise, instead it seemed to wander. This led to several “is it over?” moments that hurt the flow of the film.
The movie is visually good, and has a nice score. If you’re a fan of action films you’ll enjoy this one, which has a good amount of action mixed in with the more reflective moments. I would also recommend this movie to anyone I know simply since it’s dealing with some very real issues which need to be better known. Despite a great message, this one fell short. I give this one 3.6 out of 5 stars.