Machine Gun Preacher Reviews
Beautiful- these children and people like Deng and Marco keep fighting and not giving up. Tragic- so many is lost and tortured. Inspiring- Sam and his family and what they have done for so many. Horrifying- it falls in with tragic. The gruesome scenes of what the children endure and that this happens and still is happening. Sad- that these things happen in our world and most of all, to children.
I wasn't sure what to expect with this film and I honestly didn't really know what the film was about or that is was based on a true story. It's a raw honest look at what one man did for hundreds of kids. He saved many lives and still is. I am in awe of him and what he has done for those children."
It's an inspiring story, and there's a lot of heart, but unfortunately, the film is also kinda muddled with the ideas. I know that it's based on real events, and, while it does address the issue, I think they could have done a far better job in handling the concept of fighting violence with even more violence. And yeah, they give bits for why Sam feels compelled to do what he does, even if it isn't really his fight, but it's unblanced and kinda undercooked.
The film isn't completely without substance, but overwhelmingly Sam is depicted as an absolute hero to be rooted for. Yes, he does good things, and the film scores points by showing his transformation and change as something truly earned, but still, the film could have been better written and handled.
It is actually staged decently, and the film is ultimately saved by Butler's terific lead performance, but I feel like the film really relies on him to carry things a little too much. Monagahn and Shannon do give some okay supporting performances, but they could have been used a lot more. The cinematogrpahy is good thouhg, and the setpieces are staged fairly well.
I liked this, but can't help but feel that they still kinda half assed this a bit, or rather partially assed it.
Sam Childers (Gerard Butler) is a drug using, violent biker who has just been released from prison. Upon his release he is soon back to his old wicked ways but having nearly murdered a man in defence of his best friend Donnie (Michael Shannon), he decides to turn his attention to God and find redemption. It's at this point, that his spiritual journey begins and he finds himself taking up arms to liberate Sudanese refugee children from the LRA - the local militia, known as the Lord's Resistance Army.
The very premise of this film seems like it's has been concocted in some executive Hollywood office. I can just imagine it being pitched and how ridiculous it might have sounded. However, this is actually based on a true-story and the real Sam Childers is still, to this day, fighting for the freedom of African Children.
That being said, I had never heard of Childers before or the ongoing struggle he is directly involved in and as a result I was left with the unfortunate title of this film and it's slightly off-putting poster as my only information. After a few mindless action movies under his belt, you'd be forgiven for mistaking this recent Gerard Butler film as being in a similar vein. After all, the poster depicts him brandishing a rifle with the obligatory cowering child, hiding by his side. This very imagery and the more than dubious title completely misleads. It's actually quite far from that type of film and more of a human and political drama. Thankfully, I still gave this a chance and left it feeling quite satisfied indeed. This is thanks in large to a charismatic and very powerful performance from it's leading man. There is a real intensity to Butler's delivery and it's credit to the filmmakers that the flawed and distasteful behaviour of Childers is not ignored. He wasn't someone that you'd like to cross paths with, yet Butler plays him with just enough edge and compassion - never fully losing your support or feelings of isolation from him. His transformation from violent misogynist to redeemed man of good and ultimately, saviour and mercenary is believable, if a little unexplained. Yes, there are flaws in the character development but it's proof that given the right role, Butler can certainly deliver the goods. It's his committed and passionate performance that forgives some big leaps in character progression. Ultimately, this fault is in the screenplay as the supporting characters also suffer; again, they are not bad performances but their roles are very underwritten. Michelle Monaghan is good but distant and this could be said even more for the very underrated Kathy Baker, who has absolutely nothing to do as Childers' long suffering mother but the biggest waste of talent comes in the shape of Michael Shannon. With an Oscar nomination behind him for "Revolutionary Road"
and a superb leading role in "Take Shelter", this man should have been utilised more wisely. He still manages a presence but really, him and the aforementioned actresses melt into the background. Slight over-length may also be an issue here but trying to condense anyone's life story without causing some major bum-numbing amongst viewers can't be an easy task.
This is a film primarily about one man - Sam Childers - and thankfully, the actor chosen to play him is more than up to the task. Despite some flaws, this is still an admirable and thoroughly involving biopic.
I just wish they would have left out all the Christian propaganda in this film. It left a bad taste in the mouth, that subtracted from the overall appeal. In a sense though, it also puts the spotlight on the dark side of religion, in the way Kony uses it as an excuse to rape, mutilate, kidnap and murder. But it doesn't really merit the movie's message of finding Jesus as the solution to all of life's many problems.
Now, out of respect for my Christian friends, I'm not gonna delve any further into my general views of religion, but let's just say I got the same uncomfortable vibes as with the ending of the movie Knowing, where Nicolas Cage sends the blonde-haired children to Adam & Eve Land, in order to "salvage" the human race. I know Machine Gun Preacher is based on a true story and all, but I would have preferred a far more objective approach.
As a drama though, it works just fine, with a riveting story that has some real pathos at its core. One of the things that really saves it, is the sincere and commanding performance by a brilliant Gerard Butler. His frustrations and ambitions, heart and good will, makes it easy to sympathize with his character, even if the movie as a whole could have used a little more meat on its bones.
It's just a shame it had to be wrapped in such a self-righteous package. Because it took what could have been a great film and de-evolved it to a solid, albeit instantly forgettable biopic.
Very good film! Gerard Butler acted really good and the story is not only real but it gets to you and teaches you a lesson. 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 think people should see this movie and be more awake and aware!!
Sam Childs is a real-life ex-biker gang member. He decides to turn his life around by heading to East Africa to help repair homes that have been destroyed by civil war. He is affected by the plight of the people, especially the children. Against advice, he begins building an orphanage in militia territory. He also goes on an armed mission to rescue the children who have been kidnapped by the militia - who are being taken and forced to become child soldiers
To its credit, "Machine Gun Preacher" does have a certain cornball charm, mostly due to Gerard Butler in the lead and the fact that Michelle Monaghan can do little wrong. While this is clearly meant to be an inspiring tale of redemption and thus should be given its due respect, coupling Sam's personal journey with a tornado and genocide is perhaps a bit too much. The movie also never gets that deep in exploring Sam's contradictions nor maybe that he is not completely a new man since he has not renounced violence and the possibility that he has just exchanged one drug for another.(Remember what Marx said about religion.) The movie does have some good thoughts on American affluence compared to the rest of the world and bringing more attention to the genocide in Darfur is always worthy(the movie does everything short of putting a 800 number on the screen). But it should also be remembered that one man cannot do everything or be everywhere, no matter how much Sam might think otherwise.