Machine Gun Preacher

First off, the good news is the latest Gerard Butler movie is NOT another romantic comedy.

“Machine Gun Preacher” stars Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Kathy Baker, Michael Shannon, Madeline Carrol, and is directed by Marc Foster (previously directed “The Kite Runner” , “Quantum Of Solace” , “Monsters Ball” , and “Finding Neverland”).

The movie follows the true life story of Sam Childers (Gerard Butler) a former biker gang member/drug dealer who, at a major crossroads in his life, experiences a spirtial awakening and becomes a devoted preacher and family man. One day, after hearing another preacher speak about the plight of the thousands of kidnapped and orphaned children in africa as the result of civil war, Childers makes the life changing decision to go to Africa and assist in the building and repair of homes and ‘safe zones’ for refugees that have been damaged or destroyed by the chaos engulfing the countries of Sudan and Uganda. However, upon seeing the destruction and widespread horror inflicted upon the people (in particular the children) Childers decides he cannot stand idly by and do nothing to help.

Ignoring the warnings of overwhlemed peacekeepers and aid workers in the area, Sam decides to construct an orhanage where he thinks it’s needed the most – right in the center of the most volitile area in the Sudan, which also happens to be controlled by the brutal and ultra-violent LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army). The LRA roam from village to village kidnapping children and forcing them to become soliders for the LRA or even worse. In the beginning, Childers meets with success finding as many orphaned children as he can and ferrying them to his orphanage where they find food, shelter, and medical aid. But it is not enough. After several attacks and ambushes, Childers decides he cannot let the LRA continue to sadistically destroy lives. Sam begins to lead missions deep into LRA territory, taking the fight to the enemy while struggling with the knowledge that the situation grows darker every day for the people he is trying to help – in the Sudan and for his family back home.

This movie is definately intense and NOT for the faint of heart. I have not had the chance to read Sam Childers book which the movie is supposedly based on. As far as redemption tales go, this as realistic as it gets, in the sense that sometimes in order to find the salvation or spiritual awakening you seek, you’re forced to sacrifice all and risk losing everything you hold dear in this life in order to find it. Even with the knowledge that once you arrive at the end of that journey, you may not find the awakening you so desperately fought for.

The performances in this movie were all excellent. Kudos to Gerard Butler and Michelle Monaghan in particular. The young actors who portrayed the orphans and child soldiers definately knocked it out of the park as well. Butler also produced the movie which lends more credence to the whole theory that if one of the lead actors has a hand in the behind-the-scences work of the movie, chances are it’ll be a movie worth seein’. I’d encourage you to go see it regardless of the time of day in theaters or grab it on DVD. Rated R for extreme violence throughout and some sexual content.

4 out of 5 stars