Gerard Butler has always been something of an enigma to me. In my opinion he can be hit and miss as an actor, but in this movie he gives a powerhouse performance as the emotionally conflicted and stunted Sam Cilders, someone who follows his faith and shows simple, sometimes primal humanity in inhumane foreign environments. I think this is Gerard Butlers best performance to date, he expertly immerses himself into Sam , he is so believable in this role, both emotionally, mentally and physically. The audience may find it hard to remember it is just a movie at some stages. Michael Shannon is amazing a Sam's childhood friend Donnie, a troubled soul who is another person loyal to Sam but ultimately flawed.
This is not a movie I feel will get the awards it richly deserves. Similar in tone to Hotel Rwanda, it is an inspiring story but with a sobering message. It reminded me a lot of Hotel Rwanda because it showed how one man alone with enough faith in simple humanity can make a difference. Sam Childers is not a saint; far from it, he is flawed and he has a violent and criminal side and this is evident in the movie. However he is also shown as having humanity and the fact that he decides to make a stand and do something away from the comfort of his armchair in America is testament to his character. Would the audience have the courage to do what Sam did? That is a question facing the audience as they leave the movie, along with the graphic images which will haunt the audience for a long time after seeing the movie.
There are so many powerful moments in this movie that it is hard to pin point any without spoiling the plot. This is not a movie that you should take a date along to; or anyone who is squeamish or unsettled by blood and guts. This is a movie that takes the audience in the palm of their hands and opens their eyes to the blunt reality and the truth of genocide. It is similar in that way to Hotel Rwanda but I found this movie even more graphic and unsettling in many ways. This is a movie you should watch at all costs although you may not want to see it again. It is hard hitting, powerful, emotional but most of all thought provoking.