Saturday Movies: Machine Gun Preacher (2011)

Sam Childers finds himself free from prison, and back home with his wife, and child. Except after all this time he has spent in prison he isn’t an exactly changed man either. Until one day he finds himself on the wrong side of the law again, and caught in the corner. His wife brings him to church with her, and he finds himself wanting a change through spirituality. After being baptized, and finding a belief in Christ he is a new man. Just when it seems he is settling into a normal life he goes on a mission trip to Kenya where he then discovers that children are being forced into war. Childers becomes obsessed with helping the children there by providing a refugee for ones left without a home, but this puts him and his family at odds when it begins dividing him between his home life.

Machine Gun Preacher I’m sure drew quite the controversy. It stars some popular leads, and it was released by a secular company, so it wasn’t just exposed to the Christian community as movies like Courageous were. With the questionable content of sex, and language I’m also sure it did not get the endorsement of many if any Christian media. The thing I liked about this film though was that it was so honest. It showed us things that most Christian films wouldn’t dare show anyone.

There are a lot of bits in this movie that aren’t easy to watch. It brings an awareness to the brutalities that children in Africa are facing, and how one man chose to handle that. How Sam has dealt with it has been a debate of it’s own, but I think this movie provides a very good insight into why he has chosen the path he has. The movie doesn’t shy away from the fact he has had to use controversial matters too to combat the violence against children there. As I said, the movie is honest, and the scenes where children are caught in war can be brutal to watch.

Gerard Butler is the stand out performance of this movie. I think he really embraced his role as Sam, and tried to understand every choice, and scene that was crucial to this guy’s life. There are moments when you sympathized with him, and others that you couldn’t feel more peeved with him than you were. Butler gave that range of emotions needed. You can feel the guy’s torn passion between his family, and the children he is trying to build a better life for. Also, Butler takes on a role involving faith that most actors might have shied away from.

I think even if you might not have wanted to watch this movie it deserves a chance. It deals with some very tough issues that are not easy to watch, but shouldn’t be turned away from either. Not only that but you get a look at how being in another country with different issues affects this guy’s life in America where we live in a very different setting. For Christians who might be weary of the content I think you have to decide for yourself whether watching one man’s journey after discovering Christ can be inspiring for you. I think the use of language, and moments with his wife added a bit of something to the movie, but of course it could have been done without also especially when someone is roaming in their underwear for no reason.

Rating 4 of 5.

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