Directed by Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace, Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland,), starring Gerard Butler (300), Michelle Monaghan (Due Date) and Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road), with music by Chris Cornell ‘The Keeper’, Machine Gun Preacher is based on a phenomenal true story derived from Sam Childers’ book ‘Another Man’s War’.
‘Another Man’s War’ is “terrorism…against more than 200,000 children in northern Uganda and Southern Sudan.”
Gerard Butler is perfectly cast as Sam Childers, a hardened criminal and ex-biker who “finds Jesus” after almost killing a man while stoned. Following a preacher who recently came back from a mission in Uganda, the born anew Childers decides to go to Africa and put his construction skills to use. While there, he makes a weekend trip to the Sudan. The atrocities he witnesses first hand, committed as a result of the country’s civil war, momentously change him yet again. So moved, Childers takes it upon him self to build an orphanage for the child victims of the war. What he initially thought to be a simple undertaking proves to be much more complex and challenging, especially after a first rebel attack on the orphanage. Luckily, this ex-cons’ particular combination of life skills are very well suited for survival in Sudan.
Machine Gun Preacher is an inspirational tale of a man struggling against much adversity. Whether it be the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) trying to destroy his orphanage, rescuing kidnapped children from the depths of enemy territory, struggling to get American friends and family to care about the plight of the Sudanese’, or his wrenching crisis of faith, Childers continues on with such ferocity that were this not based on a true story, it would be entirely unbelievable—even for fiction. The film does find common ground within the conflict Childers faces as he balances his humanitarian crusade with personal and family life. The film pulls upon the audience to consider the lengths one might go to in an effort to right a wrong committed against the oppressed and poor. As a political piece, the film is a failure incorporating far too many melodramatic and distracting Rambo-like action sequences to be taken seriously. As a thematically charged exploration of a real life human struggle however the film succeeds in instilling a sense of compassion while still thrilling its viewers, however misplaced and uninformed those feelings may be.
Butler does an incredible job in both the emotional moments and the action sequences. The violence is horrific and difficult to watch even though, apparently, it has been watered down from the daily spate of horror that is now occurring in Sudan. And what is most remarkable is the ability of one man to make such a huge difference.