Movie Review-Machine Gun Preacher

Director: Marc Forster
Writer: Jason Keller
Stars: Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan and Michael Shannon

Reviewed by: Char Hardin

Category: Action-Biography-Crime

10 Out of 10

“This film is an awesomely terrifying emotional roller coaster ride that takes you through many ups and downs and spirals that will leave you emotionally and mentally spent at the conclusion.” Char Hardin


The nature of this film is a biography of sorts for the main character Sam Childers (Gerard Butler), the Machine Gun Preacher of Northern Uganda and South Sudan, as he came to be known, by the children he saved while there. However, to me this was and is a true Horror story with on-going ending. This film takes the viewer through every aspect of human emotions and shows a visceral and disturbing side of humanity, but it also shows, what can only be described as Faith. Faith in something we can’t see or feel…but a gut instinct to fight for something worth fighting for and for me Sam Childers had and still has extreme faith and belief in the undertaking of saving as many children from the LRA…The Lord’s Resistance Army…something he did, because he believed God chose him to do it.

This story will break your heart. It will shock you, make you angry, sad, happy, horrified, redeemed and end with a sigh of relief, that all of this has happened and is over. Is it really over? Do we just walk away from this picture with a sigh of relief that the film is over and there is nothing left to watch? NO, for me, it pissed me off, that some army was destroying the lives of innocent people, because some MAN thought he was owed the right to lay siege on the people and children of Northern Uganda and South Sudan and there was nothing to stand in his path of destruction…except one man did stand in the middle of LRA and his name was and still is SAM CHILDERS!

Sam Childers is first seen being released from prison and leave the prison with a few choice words, that clearly tells viewers he is not reformed or refine in the etiquette of goodbyes. Once he is on the “outside”, he is picked up by his wife, Lynn (Michelle Monaghan) and the couple had one thing on their minds…sex. Making up for lost time happens on a side ride in the little car.

Once he gets home, he is greeted by a young daughter and his mother, Daisy (Kathy Baker) in a trailer park. Tension is high, when he learns there is no beer in the fridge, his wife is no longer a stripper/junkie and the final improvement she made while he was locked up, she had become a Christian. Too much change for Sam, he takes off and goes to a familiar bar and meets with longtime friend Donnie (Michael Shannon) and before long is drinking and shooting dope…just like old times. This whole scenario sets the stage for what comes next…trouble with a capital T and leads to Sam being baptized and going straight.

Sam lands a construction job that leads to pink slip but then bad weather hits, in the form of a tornado and through the mysterious ways of God, Sam finds work and meets a preacher from Africa and he goes to offer his services of carpentry. Once there, he witnesses children coming out of the bush to the village in search of lodging. They are sent out by their parents in the off chance there are raids, their children will be far from harm. Something touches Sam’s heart and he tries to bring as many as he can into his room. It is the start of something powerful.

Sam decides he wants to build an orphanage in the middle of a warzone and nothing will detour him or stop him for building and saving as many children as he possibly can. “I just want to help these people.” The turning point for this film is the destruction of his orphanage and it is when we see him start to slip in his faith of what he is trying to do, and dealing with the separation of his family and financial situations that it all comes crashing down on him and he turns from his faith. Sam who is given free will from God…chooses to make a stand…and fight evil his way…by bringing out the big guns. There is an instance between Sam and a nurse comments and Sam replies “Why don’t you fight the evil in this place your way and let me fight it mine.”

I have seen other reviews for this film and the majority of us are screaming…”SEE THIS FILM!” and are stunned at the low reviews early on at the theatrical release. This is one instance the others got it wrong. I swear and if I am wrong, I will give up writing reviews, this film is POWERFUL! Every church in America and the World should show this film as a lesson of faith. The message that God can and does forgive all walks of life is evident in this story and life of Sam Childers. He was poster child for white trash with a death wish and he turned it all over to a being, he could not see, feel, touch and he listened with his heart and became the man he is today. An advocate for the children of Africa, who continues his mission work there to this date. I strongly recommend THE MACHINE GUN PREACHER on DVD and Blu-Ray. It is SHOCKING, DISTURBING, EMOTIONAL AND INSPIRING! SEE IT FOR YOURSELF!

I do not believe this is a 6 out of 10 film! A 7 is laughable…it is for this reviewer a 10. The highest achievement I can give a film. The acting was superb, the story (should be) award winning and moving…a real tear jerker. The scenery shots were beautiful and disturbing. The director dug in his heels and went for the hearts of every viewer with the actors and story delivered the goods as far as I am concerned. The music seeped down into your bones and gripped you when it needed to and elevated at the right moments of triumph and plummeted on sadness. I cannot stress enough, that this film is an awesomely terrifying emotional roller coaster ride that takes you through many ups and downs and spirals that will leave you emotionally and mentally spent at the conclusion.

10 out of 10.

I will not simply rent this film…I will OWN it. Look for it on Dvd from 20th Century Fox Home Video…