Machine Gun Preacher - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Machine Gun Preacher Reviews

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Super Reviewer
June 6, 2013
Somewhat in the veins of Blood Diamond, this one fared well enough for me, though not as good as Blood Diamond. The cast gave excellent performance, and the execution was good enough to restrain it from becoming too preachy. Being too loud, I didn't like the Hallelujah parts.
Super Reviewer
January 26, 2013
Real life stories make for some very good films. Now I've had reservations about seeing Machine Gun Preacher due to the fact that Gerard Butler has made a few duds over the last few years, and his last good films were Gamer and Law Abiding Citizen. For Machine Gun Preacher, Butler goes back to a more serious role as Sam Childers. The film focuses on Childers life and how he went from a criminal to someone trying to find salvation by helping others in need. Childers went to Sudan to help children that were orphaned due to civil war. Although not a flawless film, Machine Gun Preacher is a worthwhile film that is in my opinion quite underrated. Gerard Butler delivers a strong and powerful performance that is quite possibly the best of his career. The film is a mix of action and drama, and director Marc Forster does a good job with the material to capture Childers's life, but considering that he had such a unique life, the film could have been a bit better as well. In terms of a good biopic, this tells a compelling story and it is well acted. Butler redeems himself with this role due to the fact that he played in a few boring and unimpressive chick flicks. I very much enjoyed the film, but there were a few areas where the film could have been better. However there are enough good elements to make this one worth seeing. The film is very good, and is quite eye opening as well. As a whole, it is a flawed film but it is a well executed action drama that delivers something memorable.
Super Reviewer
½ November 21, 2011
An outstanding movie that packs insanely powerful punch. It`s an inspirational classic of a rebel who found his cause. A genuine human drama that cuts you to the core with its realism and story. An utterly heartbreaking, inspiring and action-packed drama. A riveting, deeply moving and extremely powerful movie. Director, Marc Fosters best film since The Kite Runner, he`s a true artist and craftsman. An absolute triumph. An incredible and unforgettable film that shakes you, shocks you and inspires you. It`s spectacular in every way you can think of and is simply extraordinary. Gerard Butler gives the best performance of his career, an explosive tour de force performance that shines with his movie star caliber. Butler delivers in a massive way that's shows his power, passion, emotion and strength. Michael Shannon and Michelle Monaghan give fine performances. An embracing, compelling and astonishing piece of work. An exhilarating mixture of thrills, explosive action and deeply absorbing drama.
Super Reviewer
½ September 5, 2011
"Beautiful. Tragic. Inspiring. Horrifying. Sad.
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."
Super Reviewer
½ August 8, 2012
A decent film based on the life of Sam Childers. A good performance from Butler playing Sam who seems to hit rock bottom, rises up when he finds God and has plenty more ups and downs at home and in Africa as he tries to help the children of Sudan.
Super Reviewer
½ August 2, 2011
Based on a true story, this film features Gerard Butler as Sam Childers, a former drug dealer/junkie biker gang member turned Christian who, after being inspired by a missionary, goes to East Africa to work construction. While there, he witnesses the atrocities commited by Joseph Kony and his troops, and is compelled to become a fierce defender of young African 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.
Super Reviewer
September 9, 2011
Oh Gerald Butler! What a complete package he is......I have seen plenty of reviews saying "unless you are a Christain, you will hate this movie". I don't consider myself much in the way of religion, and yet I really liked this movie, so that theory is out the window. This film opens your eyes to what has been going on in Sudan. It is horrifying. As far as his involvement goes in attempting to save the children there, and how he goes about it? Well, he cleared that up for me at the end of the movie during the credits. He asked "What if someone violently took one of YOUR loved of your children? If I could get them back, would you care how I did it?" The answer to that is a resounding no!...
Super Reviewer
July 12, 2012
Marc Foster is quite a versatile director that seems to be able to turn his hand at many different genres. His fantastical "Finding Neverland" and comedic "Stranger than Paradise" are a far distance from say, his gritty debut "Monster's Ball" or even his foray into Bond territory with "Quantum Of Solice". With this movie, he has changed direction again and it's no less accomplished than his previous film's.
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.
Super Reviewer
½ August 19, 2011
None have probably missed by now the "Kony 2012" campaign, that went viral all across the globe a couple of months ago. It made this film particularily interesting, as it's about an ex-conman who travels to Uganda to save some kids from Kony's clutches. Now the campaign per se may have been met by a lot of criticism (and rightly so, considering the scandal with Jason Russell and how they've spent people's donations), but the mission to bring down Kony and cease his crimes against humanity, is very compelling nevertheless.

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.
Super Reviewer
½ April 4, 2012
Hope is the greatest weapon of all

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
Super Reviewer
March 4, 2012
"Machine Gun Preacher" is the true story of Sam Childers(Gerard Butler). An ex biker who is released from prison finds god and decides he needs to act upon his new found faith. He goes to East Africa to help repair homes, and while there he decides to help the children whose lives have been ruined by an ongoing civil war. He helps build an orphanage, and leads armed missions to save children. It's a very inspiring story, but the movie is pretty uneven. Butler does good, but this probably could have been great with someone else in the lead. There's good action, but the religious aspects of the movie feel forced, and half the time you root for Butler and the other half against him. The way he treats his family really make you want him to stop helping the kids in Africa. It's like they want you to dislike the hero of the movie more than you like him. It just doesn't have a good balance to it. Overall, it's worth a watch, and I'm sure there's people that will like this a lot more than I do. But I probably won't watch this again.
Super Reviewer
½ October 27, 2011
it aims for the heart, but misses by a mile, Gerard seems to be going on a downward spiral.
Super Reviewer
September 16, 2011
Marc Forster goes Hollywood all the way with this one as he did with the disappointing The Kite Runner. Once again, here, the emotional depth of the source inspiration is half gone, leaving the place to fast ellipses in the screenplay to cover too much, which make the psychological changes in the hero look implausible. Forster and Butler still manage to pull off some powerful and beautiful scenes in a whole that is entertaining, but it hardly makes up for what the movie lacks in general.
Super Reviewer
July 11, 2013
Upon his release from prison, Sam Childers(Gerard Butler) wastes no time in getting intimately reacquainted with his wife Lynn(Michelle Monaghan). That does not mean he is not incensed when she informs him that she quit her lucrative stripping job due to a lack of day care and her finding religion, although probably not in that order. His time of reckoning occurs soon enough when he almost kills a man one night in the company of his friend Donnie(Michael Shannon). Having found religion, the rest of Sam's life soon follows, as he finds steady work and then runs a successful construction business. So, he decides to go to Uganda to build schools where he meets Deng(Souleymane Sy Savane), a resistance fighter from Sudan.

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.
Super Reviewer
July 15, 2012
Machine Gun Preacher is an effective, compelling, and thought provoking drama that examines the true story of a reformed man on a mission. It features strong performances, with Gerard Butler inhibiting Sam Chiders' intense, yet ambiguous demeanor well. There are some cliches to be found, but what really separates Machine Gun Preacher is the lack of apologies it makes for all involved, Sam remains conflicted and reckless throughout his 'redemption', making him an appropriately complex and fascinating man. The film does seem to lack an authoritative opinion about him, but I appreciated that, we see his entire transformation and his overall merits are still unclear and debatable. While not all of the relationship elements worked for me, specifically the relationship between him and his wife, the film does have a lot of interesting things to say about the nature of redemption and what constitutes philanthropy, and those questions play out well within the family dynamics. Overall, timely, interesting, and powerful.

4/5 Stars
Super Reviewer
½ June 8, 2012
If you want action. If you want a powerful drama...if you want to have your mind blown by a powerful script with tenacious acting...go see another movie. "MACHINE GUN PREACHER" was so wretched, lacked anything resembling entertainment, it actually set the standard for the new stopwatch rule. If a movie fails to provide any ounce of intelligence within 10 minutes, I do not watch any more. Before I saw this movie, I had no such rule. Once you have seen it, I am fairly confident you will set a similar standard for yourself.
Super Reviewer
½ August 20, 2011
Had Machine Gun Preacher not been based on a true story, I would not have enjoyed it as much as I did. The evidence during the credits that this indeed was a true story made the film for me. Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, and Michael Shannon were the perfect cast for this film, though the writing often fell through the cracks. The emotion of the entire situation was handled poorly with only one really memorable moment when Monaghan tells Butler to keep pushing for the church in Sudan. Though the film takes some awful turns into melodrama, the true story aspect of the film is enough to keep the story interesting.
Super Reviewer
June 5, 2012
Though the title of the film might make you think this is another movie made from one of those fake trailers between the "GrindHouse" features it is anything but. This is a film based on the true story of Sam Childers, a reformed biker gang member, drug user, and criminal who after an eye-opening incident decides to turn his life around by finding his faith. While the story does well early on to focus on Childers the man and his decision to change we are never fully convinced the man trusts his faith or even his motivations as to why God is the choice he makes in turning his life around. Director Marc Forster has done well in the past documenting small, intimate stories with "Monsters Ball", "Finding Neverland", "The Kite Runner" and "Stranger than Fiction" but has had trouble when it comes to action ("Quantam of Solace"). Here he tries to balance the two for the first time and it comes out extremely effective while at times, almost amateur. Gerard Butler, as Childers, gives one of his best performances if not the best. He creates a fully formed person and while the convergence to follow God may be a little lost in the shuffle, Butler does a fine job of showing his frustrations with those who claim to be good people, who claim to do better for the world, but act as if nothing is wrong when they know the truths of what is happening half way across the world. When Sam volunteers to go to east Africa to help build houses he is shocked by what he discovers about the LRA and their leader Joseph Kony (this only brings more awareness to the Kony 2012 movement). There is no question what is happening is horrible and in that and in Sam's missions it is hard to fault the project for anything when it is clear they genuinely just want to tell this moving story. I can't even condemn anything more about the film because what it stands for is so aggravatingly true. It is a fine film, really, with a great leading performance and good support from Michelle Monaghan and Michael Shannon. There is nothing to really dislike about the film, but there might be the need for more from it.
Super Reviewer
½ May 15, 2011
Could have been a lot more! A story of this scale, deserved better storytelling. The film while effective in some parts, missed the mark.
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