Machine Gun Preacher (2011) Poster

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Powerful, graphic, unsettling movie with a profound message of hope and human courage shown in adversity
jameslamont2 November 2011
I went into this movie with no expectations. The title made it seem like it would be a typical action movie; all guns and brawn and little in the way of storyline but boy was I wrong. This movie, based on a true story, was powerful and touched me so much that it has prompted me to write my first film review on IMDb in over six years! This is a movie with a solid pedigree of cast behind it, it is based on the life of Sam Childers (Gerard Butler), who without giving much away, has a criminal past, finds God and embarks on undertaking missionary work in civil war-torn Sudan, leaving his loyal, loving wife Lynn Childers (Michelle Monaghan) and his young daughter Paige (Madeline Carrol) back home in Penslyvania. This movie follows Sam's juggling how his Christian faith inspires him at home and also in Sudan.

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.
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9/10
machine gun
khan-behroz2 March 2012
I m not a usual review writer of any kind but i especially register for IMDb to write about this movie. After watching the movie and checking the IMDb rate i must say it is highly underestimated and i was forced to make a statement.

i would recommend this movie. it leaves you thinking not only about the characters itself but also about the issue of the movie. I myself spend hours of researching about the problems which are shown in the movie.

i find the characters very appealing although at some point i thought it could be portrayed better than it was actually done.

Overall it is a really good movie and worth a watch.
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10/10
An amazing story.. An amazing movie!!!
yude2011199 November 2011
I saw this movie and was simply left speechless. It was amazing!! The story of Sam Childers is amazing. It really makes you think and wonder how can one person have so much willpower and stamina to keep doing what he has been doing all these years for these children. I was shocked by what the LRA has been doing to these children but unfortunately this is the truth and history keeps repeating itself especially in African countries. I have lived in Africa for many years and seeing somebody doing something about these atrocities does mean a lot (even though he is a "white savior"). If this is what it takes, so be it. Let's not denigrate it as I have seen so many do in their reviews. It is a very moving story and although it is extremely violent at times (let us not forget this is a true story and these things happened), it can be very touching and emotional. Gerard Butler's performance is Oscar worthy and Michelle Monaghan and Michael Shannon were also great even though their roles were short but then again the story is about Sam Childers. However, what I would really like to know is why some of the critics trashed this movie?? !! Most of the people who saw it found it excellent as I did. And why was it not widely distributed??? I think people should see this movie and be more awake and aware!! Was it too controversial for some?? It leaves me wondering !!!
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8/10
Fantastic but Unfortunately not Well Known Biography
claudio_carvalho21 April 2012
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the addicted gang biker Sam Childers (Gerard Butler) is released from prison and learns that his wife Lynn Childers (Michelle Monaghan) is no longer a striper and has converted to Christianity. One night, Sam and his best friend Donnie (Michael Shannon) give a ride to a hitchhiker that threatens Donnie with a pocketknife; however Sam reacts and stabs the stranger and dumps him on the road.

Sam is affected by the incident and is convinced by Lynn and his mother Daisy (Kathy Baker) to join their church and he is baptized. Sam finds a straight job in construction. He is well succeeded and 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.

"Machine Gun Preacher" is a film tailored to Gerard Buttler about the fantastic but unfortunately not well known biography of Sam Childers, an addicted troublemaker drug-dealer biker that changes totally his life and becomes the only hope for thousand of orphans in Africa.

The story and the screenplay are engaging with a perfect combination of drama and action. The only thing that irritates me is douchbags that write that this film like is a Christian propaganda. This is a true story and can be found everywhere in Internet and has nothing to do with propaganda, but reality and redemption. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Redenção" ("Redemption")
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10/10
Had to travel to Denver to see it, but it was worth it.
biztec31 October 2011
The interesting observation after viewing this film at the historic Mayan Theater in downtown Denver was that every female was crying by the end and the men were poker-faced. Also of interest is that the negative reviews, which are often unnecessarily unkind to Gerard Butler, and unhelpful to the reader, often seem to have been posted by males. Sure, women around the world are crazy about Gerard Butler, but come on, this was an astounding performance about the life of an awe-inspiring man. If you didn't like the film, walked out, or wanted to punch Mr. Butler in the face, then donate the cost of your ticket to Angels of East Africa. My final comment is that Mr. Butler produced this film because it wouldn't have been made otherwise. This is a story that had to be told and he didn't accept his normal fee for his performance; in fact, although I obviously can't confirm it, I heard that he accepted a fraction of a fraction of his normal fee.
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10/10
WOAH! Incredible in every manner
drfraud-129 February 2012
This film deserves a MUCH higher score. It's one of the best movies I've seen in years.

Very well developed characters and storyline and amazing acting/plot.

I was a little upset in the beginning and thought the movie will turn out to be cheesy, but it really takes hold on you after a few initial disappointments and doesn't let go until the end.

Buttler fits the unstable "born again, dead again" character extremely well and delivers an extremely believable performance.

What really makes this movie stand out is its non-stop change of pace. It goes from slow and peaceful to hardcore Rambo action, but does so in a very creative way.

Definitely a must see and definitely a masterpiece!
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6/10
A very touchy movie
annliebe21 September 2011
"Machine Gun Preacher" is an inspirational melodrama directed by Marc Forster and starring Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan and Michael Shannon. This film is based on the true story of Sam Childers a former gang biker who finds god, becomes a pastor and has dedicated his life and all his resources ever since to rescuing and protecting orphans in Sudan, Africa. Childers founded Angles of East Africa an orphanage located in South Sudan.

Marc Forster has under his belt an impressive resume with films like Quantum of Solace, The Kite Runner, Finding Neverland and Monster's Ball.

Reviewing this film has been very complicated because of its subject matter. The movie has a strong religious subject, addresses the civil conflict and severity of the crisis in Sudan, ideals, hypocrisy and religious fanaticism. This film will divide Christian audiences because of the redemptive arc of the tale.

This is one of those movies that will provoke both sympathy and aversion. Sam Childers (Butler) is not an ordinary preacher; he carries a machine gun and kills LRA rebels in self-defense looking at it as helping God's children. Sam had a troubled life, was a gang member, drug dealer, junkie, married a stripper, but his life dramatically changes around when he finds god or god finds him, as he states in the movie. He claims to be a soldier fighting for freedom and becomes a member of the SPLA (Sudan People's Liberation Army).

Mark Foster does a good job bringing such a complex and controversial story to the big screen utilizing his well-known visual skills. This movie has a lot of graphic and violent scenes, showing the horror caused by a civil war, torture, savage murders, and how entire villages are destroyed.

MPAA rating: R Runtime: 2:03 mins Production Co: Relativity Media, Virgin Produced, Apparatus Productions
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10/10
Heart Wrenching and Poignant
angeltriggs21 September 2011
I saw a screening last night at the DGA, and wasn't prepared for what I was about to witness. I was in tears several times during the film. It was something that will stick with me forever. I think the fact that this was a true story made it even more powerful.

The whole cast was really wonderful, but Michelle Monaghan stands out in my mind. That girl is a true talent, and hearing her speak after the movie made me realize how invested she is, not only in the film part of the project, but in the charity with Sam Childers as well. Such impressive work, both in front of and behind the camera.

The movie made me want to help. It made me angry that our military, government, and governments across the planet have neglected these people.

I am still reeling from seeing this. Brilliant, moving, and absolutely gut wrenching.

Did someone say Oscar?
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10/10
Incredible
hayley-meadows15 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The film I saw was not the film I was expecting.

I spent half the film in tears, it was emotional, heart breaking and one of the best films I have seen.

The life changing story of Sam is one of inspiration that I will never forget.

Totally amazing and one that was told well and had to be told.

The journey his wife and child take with him and without him shows strength and courage, it can't be easy to deal with your husband/father constantly gone yet they manage to do it, live through it and remain strong.

The hope Sam gives to those children is something that can never be forgotten.
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10/10
masterpiece
anamarijabeslin23 October 2011
This story touch my hart and soul! Even after couple of days after watching movie i still feel movement that this story caused in me;it is strong and powerful and it will change your life view forever! It made me appreciate more my life and my environment,not to mention enormous wish and need to help anyone who is in this kind of horror!

You will have to prepare yourself for a very horrifying story! You will not forget this movie for a long time! Hopefully this movie will go bigger and beyond - and it will help and assist in fight against this terror!!!

This movie deserves an Oscar!!!!!
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5/10
Hillbilly from Penn
ferguson-62 October 2011
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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9/10
Excellent!
aleksradic3 March 2012
This movie is awesome!!!!!!!!!!! I heard about it when it was in the Toronto International Film Festival. It's based on a true story and it's really inspiring. The story is rich and the movie keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time. You also learn something watching it. I was so interested that i looked up Sam Childers organization and watched some of his interviews afterwards. I also thought Gerard Butler did a really good job portraying Sam - really good acting. The other actors are really good as well. Won't lie - i shed a few tears too. You feel terrible for all the people and children of Sudan and Uganda. I would definitely see this movie!!!!!!!! You won't be disappointed. Awesome! Loved it!
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6/10
Childers Story Holds Great Potential -- Lead Role Sadly Miscast -- Inconsistent Script
Unbilled_Role3 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
"Machine Gun Preacher" is produced by Gerard Butler, who by no small accident has absorbed the lead role, which is based on the real-life story of Sam Childers. Sam is a reformed ex-con, whose former life was dangerously reckless, until he turned his life around and began to do the Lord's work. I was inspired by the core storyline, which concerns itself with themes of transformation.

There were some missing puzzle pieces in the script. One example is just after Childers comes to Jesus. After a mandatory church scene, the period of time when he truly changes his life is not addressed. If the film had shown this difficult transition of what it really means to leave "the old world behind", then the plot would have benefited by a reality-shot to the arm.

Some of the African scenes were moving, like where Childers has built an orphanage and becomes a freedom fighter who rescues war-torn children. And that's why I felt that I had to give this film a rating of 6 stars, rather than a mediocre 5.

Kathy Baker and Michael Shannon, both very fine actors, should have been given more lines and more screen time. Savane did a fine turn as the African comrade. I'm not as convinced as some of the pro critics about the casting of Monaghan as his wife. She played it with a quiet sincerity, but what I hoped for was a stirring undertone, revealing fragments of her former hard-scrabble life. Who could have done this role real justice? How about Melissa Leo?

At the end of the film, the rolling credits reveal the real-life Sam Childers. It was at this moment in seeing and hearing the burly, earthy-looking biker man that I was further convinced that Childers himself was miscast. Gerard Butler's handsome looks are distracting. He does a fair enough job, but the role does not shine. In the church scenes when he was preaching, the credibility was sorely lacking. It felt like Butler was going through the motions.

Can Gerard Butler get an Amen, brother and sisters?

Sadly, not from this viewer.

So, who could carry the mantle of Childers with sufficient gravitas? Several actors come to mind: Billy Bob Thornton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, or Michael Shannon. Each of these gentlemen have the chops to tackle a difficult role like this.

I'm grateful that this story has come to light in this film. But after going online to find out more about Sam Childers, I see that his personal web site is polished and fairly commercial. This slick branding is the opposite of Childers, who is a gruff rebel rouser, and also happens to save children. Similarly, this film seems to try too hard to be accepted into the fame-driven flock of Hollywood.

And that, dear brethren, could be the weak link in this film. While the movie is clearly faithful to the commercial demands of Movietown, the genuine story of Sam Childers has been watered down and compromised. My hope is that 10 years from now, some indie filmmaker will re-develop this story, and infuse it with all the complex, gritty glory which it deserves.
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2/10
Just another Religiously filled movie
muslim-45 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
While the idea of the movie is not that bad, as an idea, the way it is presented is absolutely horrible in all scales. The whole idea surrounds around the church and how it affects people in a good way. The problem is that the whole movie is filled with unbelievable turns of actions, and not in a good way. The idea of 'turning from evil to angel' is taken word to word from a religious point in this movie and there is no decency in the the way things take action. I just cannot believe this movie has such a high rating with the amount of bullshit it contains.

Another negative point is the 'facts' this movie is trying to show. At one point it started promoted Christianity as the right way of life, and I do not say that is completely wrong as I am open minded, but when it does that in a very explicit way it just kills the movie. Another horrible turn of the movie is a sentence that made me sad because it is being taken for granted. It is a part of the dialog in the first half of the movie where a man says "The Muslim north has been killing the Christians in the south for over 30 years." From a political view that is pure bullshit and there is no other way to describe it. If they were trying to be informative they should have brought the facts in a right way, the way it was said, very carelessly, indicates a very wrong fact about the situation between Southern and Northern parts of Sudan.

I am completely disappointed with this movie and I sincerely hope I never ever heard of it.
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6/10
Truth is it isn't a Great movie or a Bad one either
alex-b-katzmann27 February 2012
The movie stars Gerald Butler and his life transformation from a pitiless biker to a church builder avenger.

A lot of criticism of this movie comes from people crying out against white superiority or religious propaganda, in my opinion this movie does neither and anyone that have read books and documentaries about Africa knows that the situation over there does require occidental involvement in any form to help those countries until they can manage their own states by themselves, of course dependency on foreign aid is another issue but let's no get into that.

My problem with the movie that is said to be based on a 'true' story comes from the script itself. I did not believe Gerard Butler's transformation from a ruthless bandit that forces his wife to go back to stripping instead of working in a mall, not saying that this is impossible in real life, but that the way they presented it was lacking realism.

The rest of the movie sends a good message about people implicating in Africa's civil wars, and especially Sudan although the situation has since changed with South Sudan's new sovereign state. A good way to this at home is perhaps to visit and give support to African based groups advocating for a united Africa with real bureaucracies, laws, corruption-free police.

For a movie that talks about Africa The Machine Gun Preacher is less than stellar compared to many others, not because of it's message but because of it's content and I didn't think it portrayed white superiority in any kind and I don't think supporting white Christian churches for their actions in Africa is a bad message anyone saying the contrary should ask themselves what are they doing that those churches aren't.
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10/10
fantastic, worth seeing, but don't see it if you forgot your heart at home!
ekoutso5 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I really can't believe some of the reviews I read about this fantastic movie! The story is amazing and the movie itself wonderful to watch. Although I've been in Africa, and was expecting that part of the movie to be somewhat "boring" to me (after reading a previous review that claims that the first part of the movie was "slow-doing" and "boring"), I swear I was so absorbed by the story that I felt no second of bore or slowness. I have no clue what some people were expecting! The actors and actresses did a great job to do the characters justice. I loved Gerard Butler but who doesn't love this guy. What I appreciated especially about his acting was the real depth he gave his character. An amazing performance. I ended up crying towards the end because the story is so touching. It is by no way a light-hearted movie to watch if you can't think for yourself about certain truths in life; if you want a brainless comedy obviously this won't be your cup of tea. I loved the real-life Sam 'takes' in the end near the credits. And yes, I think this guy is doing exactly what he is supposed to be doing and he's making a huge difference in the hopeless world in Sudan. In that context (of a lawless country where kids have no rights whatsoever) what he does is what anyone with a consciousness (and guts) ought to be doing to make a difference in the world. I hope this movie opens the door to more funding for his efforts. And like Sam says to his church goers: "WAKE UP! Don't be like sheep". This man is truly living his life fully awakened. Thank you to all who worked to bring this story to the movie theater. It was more than worth it.
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1/10
Religious propaganda
ThomasJeff14 September 2012
The movie is religious propaganda.

We are quickly seeing an evil ex-con who suddenly after murdering someone, seeks God's forgiveness, and voila! The Church and God forgives. His drug addiction miraculously cured. Then he goes on to kill Africans who enslave children--WHO HAPPEN TO BE Christian ZEALOTS THEMSELVES.

So the whole plot of the movie is ironic because Christians are the reason the Lord's Resistance Army exists. People who don't understand philosophy, can easily find this movie inspiring because they think that religion is necessary to do good, and that's just deceptiveness of the filmmakers here.

Childer's could have been a Jew, or a Buddhist monk, the religion does not matter---yet the film tries to make it seem like Christianity is the only way.

No one seems to be aware that belief-without-evidence is the very source of the problem with Africa. And using belief-without-evidence in America to inspire oneself to fight others who have belief-without-evidence is the strangest most ridiculous movie plot ever.
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1/10
Terrible Experience
sbutters-382143 May 2015
I have never seen a movie about a protagonist that was so unsympathetic. He pretty much spent 90% of his life terrorizing everyone in his community and then he stabs some drifter and suddenly he finds Jesus....give me a break. He then magically gives the American dream to his family that he neglected and abused for 90% of his life and suddenly everything is A-okay.

He then starts his own church and a mission in Africa. He spends most of his time neglecting his business and church to hide from his problems in Africa. It's like he can't focus on the problems plaguing his community, which obviously has problems, if there is such rampant crime and drug use, which he knows of first hand. Anyways, he gives some warriors of god speech to his church so they can sponsor his little jihad/vacation in Sudan.

He also goes to his former boss and pretty much uses the fear of god's wrath to bully him into paying for his little crusade. When his former boss doesn't give him exactly the dollar amount he demands, he storms out of the party his former boss invited him to, like an angry child and throws a temper tantrum at his wife and kids.

I also love how he cares so much for these people half way across the globe rather than his own friends and family. He pretty much just ignores his family, browbeats and verbally abuses his daughter when she just asked for some money to get a limo to her prom (even though he took out a freaking loan he has no hope of repaying for his mission in Africa), and leaves his friend to die all so he could run away to Africa and play hero. It's partially his wife's fault because when he wanted to quite (like any person with a brain would after watching their mission burn down and be thrown into a war zone), his idiotic wife tells him to stay there, waste more money and possibly die.

In short, it was a movie about a bunch of people with a messiah complex that would rather play savior then actually think for themselves. If these people had even a little bit of a sense of self or logic, then half of the stuff in this movie would not have happened.
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7/10
Documentary-lite but High on Energy
Simon_Says_Movies15 September 2012
Religion and violence are far more synonymous than most people of faith would care to admit, and with Machine Gun Preacher Gerard Butler's criminal-turned-man-of-god certainly embraces that twisted mantra with a fervor. Despite adding a little too much "story-of-the-week" flavor, what allows this African-set, wartime drama/actioner to distinguish itself from your typical "one man against evil" archetype is Butler's charisma and instances of character arc complexity that do not play out as you might expect.

Directed by Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace), Machine Gun Preacher chronicles select chapters from the life of Sam Childers (Butler) and his crusades against the genocide in Sudan by constructing an orphanage for the casualties of the conflict – the ones who are still alive. When we start out, Childers has just been released from prison and wastes no time returning to his biker bar, reuniting with his bad influence of a best friend (Michael Shannon) and setting up a tidy drug score. After an unforeseen complication (and an attempted murder) leaves the man shaken, he turns to his religious wife (Michelle Monaghan) for salvation.

What he finds while on a missionary outing to Sudan are the orphans, whose cause he initially addresses by allowing the majority of a wandering pack of young children to cram themselves in his tiny motel room. From there, it becomes an obsession – an addiction – as much as a cause. It is from this point where the fable deviates favorably (if not flawlessly) from its traditionally constructed roots, when Childers realizes simply constructing a modest orphanage (and the presence of a "white man") is not enough to keep the rebels at bay.

Hence, the "machine gun preacher" is born, allying himself with revolutionists and carrying out attacks, raids and ambushes with the apparent end goal to protect "his" children. What we actually see, unequivocally, is his sociopathic side slipping through his soft veneer and his addiction swelling to an all-out overdose of righteousness. To make matters worse, he alienates his actual family back in the States, drives them close to financial ruin with his self-funding efforts and refuses to quit because of his own broken logic. This makes Childers a somewhat unlikable individual in that respect, but also makes him all the more intriguing.

I still fail to see Butler ever rising to the plane of an awards- garnering thespian, but he is consistently larger-than-life and rarely uninteresting to watch on screen. He infuses Childers with a bravado and intensity that is enough to compensate for unevenness in the screenplay. Also of note is that while the film is about a preacher and his godly crusade, "Machine Gun" ironically rarely preaches and lets the story and the horrible situation speak for itself. There are instances of manipulation when it comes to the orphans, but things are kept refreshingly low key.

Machine Gun Preacher tells an interesting story (if a familiar one thanks to an amplitude of entirely fictitious and melodramatic Hollywood fare available) about a man, who still to this day champions orphans in Africa. Crisp action, punctuations of graphic violence and solid performances throughout convey the proper message despite never really offering up of an enough impact to make anything click in the minds of the average individual. Essentially, this is documentary lite with just enough energy to warrant the big-screen treatment.
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6/10
I hate this movie
zooz8982 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
OK, first of all, I'm Sudanese, lived my hall life (23years) in Sudan. Second, this movie is everything that's bad with the media, I mean the movie is all talking about Sudanese Muslims killing Christians like it's a religious war or something!. I accept the fact that there is a war going in Sudan, but it have nothing to do with religion, it started 25 years ago, and was really for some injustice going on in Sudan, and turned into a civil war in south Sudan. And what about this dude, leaving America to work in Africa? like American people don't need any help! what about Katrina and the fluid victims? aren't they christens too? or is it just Africa that is accepted to help?

Again people, just get your facts strait before watching a movie and believing it!.
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5/10
Mediocre entertainment...
paul_haakonsen17 December 2015
"Machine Gun Preacher" tries to tap into the sympathy of the audience with a real life story, but the movie ended up being entertaining for what it was, but it was a mediocre experience at best.

The story is about Sam Childers, a reformed criminal and substance abuser, who finds God, builds a church and then goes to Sudan to help the needy in a war-torn country.

Personally, I found the story a bit too sappy and too much of a goodie-two-shoes, but then again, I don't buy into the whole Christian concept. But that is a personal preference, of course.

Gerard Butler put on a good performance, although it was a bit out of his usual area of acting. But it is nice to see actors branch out to new things and genres.

This movie is not the type of movie that you watch more than once. While the work that Sam Childers have done is commendable and commendable, the story in the movie just doesn't have enough weight to support multiple viewings. For me, this movie just didn't pack enough punch to really be a great movie, despite of however larger-than-life compassion for life and selflessness it tried to tell.
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4/10
Africa
pennyelenabooks26 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Sam Childers was a hard core criminal until he becomes very involved with his local church and turns his life upside down towards the better, starting his own business, taking care of his family and getting his life in order. Then he travels to Africa, to build a orphanage for the children of the civil war. The movie deals with many subjects, with the war, the volunteering, the family relationships, the violence, the human passion. And it present them all equally and wonderfully. The human drama and the violence are a little harsh, but the atmosphere of the film wants a darker light. The story is good, even though the lines are not as good, but as it is a true story it can't be something over the top. However the ending is not that good, it feels like it ends suddenly, as if they run out of money and they had to stop shooting. So 4 out of 10, because of the great performances and the strong massage behind the story.
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God, Me and Africa
YohjiArmstrong2 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Plot: An American biker criminal finds God which leads him to go to the Sudan and start an orphanage which, in the face of attacks by the LRA, he begins to defend with armed force.

This is a biopic and, like so many biopics before, it can't make up its mind where the story is. Instead you get a "and then and then and..." narrative, like reading a Wikipedia article. So, is this a redemption story about a violent drug-abusing criminal who gets God and turns his life around? Is it a faith story about the trials and tribulations of a Christian trying to do what he thinks is God's work in Africa? Or is it a Heart of Darkness story about a Westerner who is almost destroyed by Africa? As a result of this indecision the story is repetitive and over-long. By the second half it seems to consist entirely of watching Gerard Butler travel to Africa and then back to America. There is an interesting spin on the usual Western "Save Africa" sort of film. Aware that such films usually lack popular appeal, this film tries to broaden its audience with lots of modern shaky-came combat and an appeal to fellow (especially in the US) Christians to help their brothers in Africa. It doesn't really work. Partly because the battles are repetitive (the same stunt involving an RPG and a jeep is used three times) but mostly because they are disconnected from most of the rest of the story. They make great trailer fodder, but little else. Whilst the Christian aspects never seem to quite work, partly, I suspect, because the Director isn't a theist. I did however appreciate the treatment of the American Midwesterners. As one of the few groups you're still allowed to hate (see "Red State"), it was nice to see them treated with a little respect rather than just as redneck, hillbilly, Bible-bashin' racists with guns.
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8/10
Based on an auto-biography---
Ishallwearpurple28 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Machine Gun Preacher (2011) Gerard Butler, Michele Monagham, Souleymane Sy Savane. How can a story be propaganda if you make a film about what the person themselves has put on paper? Sam Childers wrote a book about what he did and now everyone is saying, in effect - "no you didn't. We know better. It was this way. You are a jerk and don't know what you're talking about!" I think people don't WANT it to be true, because that makes them feel superior.

But Sam thinks he did what he wrote. I have watched it twice and taken some notes. Remember - it is HIStory and we, the viewers, can't change facts to suit our preferences.

The films prologue sets the theme. It's 2003 and the atrocities in Sudan are unbelievable. Then we jump to what Sam's life was in 2003. Drugs, robberies, prison, etc. It is HIS story from then on and he pulls no punches in how bad and lost he was.

He was rescued by his wife Lynn and the church. Because he knows what it feels like to finally walk into a place of worship and feel so alone, he decides to build a storefront that says "come as you are - we need you." Which is the Christian message. Not propaganda. Sam is successful in getting things going. He has a construction business and his church and is inspired to go to Africa to help build a school. It is the changing point for him. He is compelled to go back again and again to do something for the youngsters living in Hell.

He finally realizes that no matter how "good" the missionaries are, the Kona army will keep burning down everything, kidnapping children, killing their parents, and worse, until stopped. The 'government' has no help for those out in the bush country. So he grabs a gun and takes a truck and the mission guards and goes to get what kids he can and bring them back to safety. And they do have to kill some of Kona's thugs.

And he doesn't sugar-coat how the other missionary communities feel about him or visa-versa. The young woman says to him "you are a mercenary." But he only knows he is rescuing some of the children. That's it for him And it is HIS story. It's his P-O-V. I can't fault him for that.

The cast are good. Gerard Butler is especially good in the beginning scenes showing the bad-boy biker persona. The same qualities that made Sam an addict make him successful in other pursuits. Singleness of purpose, and a laser-beam on what he wants to do. And of course, Butler is fine in the action scenes. Looked real to me.

Michele is good as his no-nonsense wife. She loves him but stands up for herself. Michael Shannon as Sams buddy, doesn't get much to do. The actors in the Africa segment are all good, but Savane is a strong presence. Madeline Carroll, as daughter Paige, is sweet and normal. Wants some attention from her Dad.

The film was engrossing to me. 8/10 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1586752/
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3/10
The cross and the switchblade
Prismark1015 December 2015
From respected film director Marc Forster is this film that we are told is based on true events. In that case it leaves me with a bad feeling as we somehow have to cheer for some kind of cold blooded murderer.

Sam Childers is a bike gang member, a drinker, druggie and a criminal who spends time in jail. His wife finds religion and over time so does Childers. He gets into a successful construction business.

When he hears a sermon from a missionary from Sudan, Childers is inspired to go there and build an orphanage. He is driven into improving the life of the kids in South Sudan. He soon comes into conflict with Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army that operates from Uganda. Now Kony and his cronies are evil, turning boys into armed soldiers and selling girls into sex slavery.

Childers in no time returns to his violent instincts becomes a commander in the Sudan People's Liberation Army fighting against Kony's faction, hence the title Machine Gun Preacher.

Gerard Butler is left with a dilemma by the script. Childers is less a preacher and just another guy spraying bullets with a gun and worse still just looks like another white man from the western world here to rescue the black folks of Africa.

The film turns into a violent graphic novel rather than a man fighting his conscience. He even neglects his business and family back home for this zealous course he has undertaken.

Childers is just another mercenary and a cold blooded one. For his sake let us assume the film is not true because he should be charged with being an unlawful combatant.
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