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In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, addicted gang biker Sam Childers is released from prison and learns that his wife Lynn is no longer a stripper but has converted to Christianity. One night, Sam and his best friend Donnie give a ride to a hitchhiker who threatens Donnie with a pocketknife; however Sam reacts and turns the tables on the stranger. Sam is affected by the incident and is convinced by Lynn and his mother Daisy to join their church, and he is baptized. Sam finds a straight job in construction. When he meets a preacher from Africa, he decides to visit the continent. Sam travels to Northern Uganda and South Sudan many times and builds an orphanage for the victims of the cruel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Further, he fights whenever necessary and becomes a legend known as The Machine Gun Preacher. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The real Sam Childers, whom the story is based on, shows screenings of a heavily-edited version of the film in churches around the world. The proceeds of which are used to support his ongoing work in South Sudan. See more »
When Sam is being baptized the preacher puts him backwards in the tank of water but Sam's clothes are already wet. See more »
Greetings again from the darkness. Movies based on true stories and real people tend to receive the benefit of the doubt from me when they exaggerate those truths and characters. The real life Sam Childers at the beginning of the movie is an ex-con, druggie, gun-loving drug dealer, thug, lousy dad, worse husband, and overall man of failed character. When he finds God, he loses the drug labels but the only other thing that really changes is his postal address.
Sam Childers sees himself as a modern day crusader working to make a better life for the war orphans in Sudan. It's impossible to argue that he hasn't had an impact on lives. The real question is, at what cost and by what methods? Over the closing credits, we even get a clip of the real Sam asking us "does it matter how?".
You will find no debate here for whether or not this man has made a difference or whether his methods should be judged. This space is merely for analyzing the movie which is telling a story. Gerard Butler does an admirable job making Sam a somewhat sympathetic character. Re-read my first paragraph if you think that's easy! Michelle Monaghan plays Lynn, his incredibly supportive wife who actually helped Sam find God, rather than continue his criminal, drug-addled ways with friend Donnie (Michael Shannon).
While I found the story of the Sudanese children to be heart-breaking, the choppy and fragmented manner in which it's presented was quite annoying. The story began in 1998 but we never really knew what year it was or how much time had passed between Sam's trips home. Many of the gun battle scenes came across very staged and set-up for a cool shot of Butler brandishing a weapon and bandanna.
So while I found the story to be quite interesting, I found the delivery to be less than adequate. This despite fine performances from Butler, Monaghan, Shannon, Kathy Baker and Madeline Carroll. There are numerous magazine articles about Sam Childers and I believe you will find those more accurate and informative.
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