I’m not one for preachy (pun intended) inspirational movies. Most of them are clichéd and feature a very formulaic approach to story telling. That being said, MACHINE GUN PREACHER is not your typical inspirational tale at all… and the fact that it’s all a true ass story makes it that much more shocking and awe invoking.
The story of a drug addict, who found Jesus, and then a much higher calling in life, forms the backbone of MACHINE GUN PREACHER. Gerard Butler has been a little absent from the scene lately, with the exception of crappy Chick-Flicks (yea, I said it!) however, he returns with a bang (again, literally) playing the real life Sam Childers.
Sam was a red neck hillbilly criminal and drug addict with a wife and a young daughter. A violent incident causes Sam to seek help, and through his wife’s he finds Jesus. Yep, the typical ‘I love Jesus’ story… so far. Sam is able to turn his life around, and make an honest living as a construction worker, building a good life for himself and his family.
After being made aware of a Program in Africa, helping build Churches, Sam decides to go down there to help out as much as he can. MACHINE GUN PREACHER starts from this point, where the first hand experiences that Sam has in Africa, drastically change him, and he becomes both emotionally and personally invested in the things happening in Sudan.
Seeing hundreds of Sudanese children orphaned, and other violent acts against children, Sam decides to build an orphanage there. Being a former bad-ass, Sam also gets directly involved with the Freedom Fighters of Sudan, who are providing his noble cause the security he needs and hunt down the cruel opposition who murders Sudanese families.
This incessant need of Sam’s to protect children, transforms him into a Preacher back in America, where he opens his own Church. His good intentions give him the ability to speak to others about his experiences, while back in Africa he goes around with guns kicking ass and saving other Children from being enslaved or killed due to the political turmoil.
MACHINE GUN PREACHER also keeps one thing consistent, that I’ve often seen done wrong when it comes to writing about bad characters turned good. Our main lead is NOT a nice guy. He was a horrible guy that beat his wife and committed small crimes. Despite him finding Jesus, that is not a personality trait that goes away.
This is evident during the 2nd half of the film, where, even though his intentions and life has changed… his reaction and frustrations to not being able to do enough good… reverts him back to the aggressively dominating person that he always was. It’s something the character has to deal with internally, along with the story and situations of the film itself. It’s refreshing to see this kind of truthful writing in a film.
This aspect is crucial for movies where the main character essentially has a ‘change of heart’. Human behavior and responses are so ingrained in a person over the decades, that one incident is never enough for them to deviate from it. It’s reality. Movies never take that into account. MACHINE GUN PREACHER does, and I applaud the writers for doing so.
This film is a great watch, as it really does bring into perspective certain harsh truths that we refuse to face. Gerard Butler plays the character of Sam Childers to perfection, and it’s about damn time we see the 300 veteran in an action role, albeit with a dramatic inclination. The film also portrays the downfall that comes with being too passionate and taking up a cause greater than oneself, at the expense of others around us.
This movie is a great story, albeit slightly graphic for the weak stomached. And the fact that MACHINE GUN PREACHER is based on a true story makes it that much more badass!!