There is no denying that the life of Sam Childers is an interesting one. Hell, when you put it into words, it almost seems like something out of a Hunter S. Thompson novel. Seriously, look at this: former drug and alcohol-addicted biker gang-barfly is saved by his ex-stripper wife and transforms his life of murder and robbery into a war on poverty and sex slavery. Childers, having found comfort in his new life, take his carpentry skills to Africa to assist in the building of homes of war torn villages. Upon returning home from his missionary trip, Childers found himself inspired to create two unique buildings; a church built with sinners in mind and an orphanage in Southern Sudan. His orphanage became home to over 200 children and assisted in providing food to over 1,000 kids a day.
Honestly, his story is as inspiring as they come.
However, an inspiring event does not always equate a successful transition to the silver screen. This is the case with Machine Gun Preacher.
While the movie has a fair share of feel good moments, there are also a handful of the concepts of the film that become cluttered and border on preachy. This is probably because the subject matter of this film borders on being too complex for the visual arts, or at very least, they are too complex to be explained in a time period shorter than a Ken Burns’ documentary. Forced to take an almost black and white approach to the direction of the film in order to save time, Marc Forester fails to complete many of the images he creates in the film. This tends to leave the flick feeling more like an infomercial for The Angels of East Africa than a biopic on the life of Childers. Sadly, I’m fairly certain this was not the intent of the director. Unless of course Forester actually set out to sell short the brilliance of Childers’ amazing life.
Of course, choosing Gerard Butler to represent Childers doesn’t really help Forester’s cause. To be completely factual, the two look almost nothing alike. With expressionless emotions and a calm cool Butler tends to fall far too close to something out of one of the James Bond movies, where Childers himself looks far more like Paul Senior from Orange County Choppers. Butler’s role in the film is honestly nothing more than a blatant attempt to squeeze sex appeal into the movie in order to sell a few tickets to teenage girls and cougars that fantasize about grinding his gun. I mean is there anyone who honestly can say they think he was cast for his superb acting skills? *Crickets*
Long story short, Machine Gun Preacher falls short of living up to the lives it represents. I can’t possibly express the disappointment I have saying that, as the potential this film has, based strictly on the story it began with is right up there on the level with Schindler’s List and other real life, heart-wrenching stories. Sadly however, Hollywood has done with this picture what Hollywood does best: fail.
So here is my advice to you:
Instead of spending 10 dollars at the box office and 10 dollars for popcorn and a drink at your local theater, let’s band together and start a movement. Let’s write a twenty dollar check and send it to the following address:
Angels of East Africa
P.O. Box 131
Central City, PA 15926
Rather than support a mediocre movie do yourself a favor and support a fantastic cause. Just imagine if a number as small as 100 people reading this review skip this film in favor of supporting this cause. Those 2,000 dollars will go a long way.
But that’s just my two cents.
I give Machine Gun Preacher 2 Bibles out of 5
by Josh Hammond