Movie review – Let us pray and then pass the ammunition

2012-01-20 08:35

Film: Machine Gun Preacher (Nu Metro)
Director: Marc Forster
Featuring: Gerard Butler, Souleymane Sy Savane, Michael Shannon and Michelle Monaghan
Rating: 7/10

Scottish actor Gerard Butler channels his hillbilly side in Marc Forster’s Machine Gun Preacher, based on a true story.

Butler is Sam Childers, a drug-dealing biker who finds God after a stint in prison and ends up in Uganda building a church. Once there, he visits the border with Sudan and is so moved by the plight of the children caught up in the war he decides to build an orphanage.

This is where the film diverges from the usual do-gooder from the West saving African children. Childers quickly gets embroiled in the conflict and he comes out shooting.

Souleymane Sy Savane is Deng, a Sudanese freedom fighter who takes Childers on his first tour of Sudan’s horrors and the two develop a strong friendship, which culminates in the pair leading raids on the LRA and actively saving children instead of waiting for the children to find their way to them.

There’s always something very satisfying about watching men who harm innocent children getting blasted to hell – Deng and Childers oblige all the way through this film.

Back in America though, Childers’ personal life is falling apart as he becomes obsessed with other people’s children on the other side of the world while neglecting his own wife and child.

There is a debate here about what a white hillbilly from middle America can possibly know about a complicated and bloody African conflict. But the truth is Childers took action in a place where so many others haven’t bothered – regardless of where they are from.

It’s very hard not to become a fan of Childers’ hard-assed attitude towards the murderous militias, even if a lot of his actions are driven by a desperate attempt to exorcise his own past.

In the hands of Forster, this film does not degenerate into a preachy mess.

In fact, though God does come into the equation because of the nature of the character, it isn’t rammed down the audience’s collective throat.

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