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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Thu Oct 06, 2011 7:35 pm

'Machine Gun Preacher' finally gives Sudan a story
By Chase Wade

Published: Sunday, October 2, 2011 Associated Press


Don't let the title fool you, there is much more to this dramatic movie than a religious man with ammunition.

"Machine Gun Preacher," tells the true story of Sam Childers. Childers, who spent most of his early life in and out of jail, fighting drug addiction and providing for his family by robbing drug dealers or selling drugs, decides to turn to the lord after another stint in prison.

From there, Childers is a changed man. He lucks upon a construction job and in a series of events one can only explain as "divine," Childers eventually ends up opening his own construction business.

However, after finding the Lord, Childers takes it upon himself to open his own church. The church, which is a collection of broken individuals looking for a second chance, is simple and stated ­—just like its founder.

Even though the church is quite successful and Chllders' life is back in order, he wants more. After a guest preacher comes to his wife's church to plead for help in Sudan, Childers is inspired by the preacher's message and gets the idea to build an orphanage in the war-torn country.

From Childers' epiphany to build an orphanage comes the rest of the plot of "Machine Gun Preacher." Wasting little time explaining Sam's life pre-orphanage, a bulk of "Machine Gun Preacher," takes place as Sam experiences the trials and tribulations that go along with building an orphanage in a country that is in the middle of a brutal civil war.

Taking a true story (especially one as heroic as his) and transferring it to film is a tough task for any director. However, "Machine Gun Preacher's" director, Marc Foster, dealt with the heavy story line quite well, flip-flopping between his home life and the life he has on the Sahara of Sudan.

Foster seamlessly jumps from Childers' two lives without wasting any of the audience's time. In one scene, he could be reading his daughter a book as he is tucking her in and in the next, he is strapped with guns and explosives fighting off the LRA (Sudan's Lord Resistance Army) as they try again and again to take over his orphanage.

Tackling the larger than life role of Sam Childers is Gerard Butler. Butler, known mainly for his roles in movies like "300" and "Phantom of the Opera," looks more than comfortable behind the trigger of an AK-47.

Butler's portrayal of Sam is honest and courageous, everything that his real-life counterpart exemplifies. In one particular moment in "Machine Gun Preacher," Butler flexes his acting muscle as he slowly losses his mind in the orphanage in Sudan.

Most of his success can be attributed to his wife, Lynn Childers. Playing Lynn is Michelle Monaghan, known best for her role in "Source Code." As Lynn, Monaghan is tough, honest, and one heck of a wife. Lynn has scene Sam at his lowest of lows, however for some reason, Lynn sticks by Sam, even when he sells his company and empties out the family safe in hopes of keeping his orphanage afloat.

"Machine Gun Preacher," is almost as honest as films these days come. Foster takes no mercy on his audience as he displays the graphic (and very true) violence what Sudan is experiencing.

Even back in America, Foster still paints a dim picture of what Sam's life is supposed to be.

In a way, "Machine Gun Preacher," is more of a call to action than it is a feature film. At the end of the 127-minute running time, you can't help but want to donate all of your life's savings to Sam's orphanage.

However, call to actions aside, "Machine Gun Preacher" is an honest film that features enough drama, action, and emotion to make it worth the price of admission.

And if Foster found a way to end the film with ease, the movie could be hearing Oscar buzz, but for it's staggered finale, "Machine Gun Preacher" will be just another fall movie that slips between the cracks.


http://www.smudailycampus.com/machine-gun-preacher-finally-gives-sudan-a-story-1.2625048
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Thu Oct 06, 2011 7:38 pm

Posted on Fri, Sep. 30, 2011

His mission: Save kids, shoot guns

The brawny biopic about a biker and junkie who finds his calling in East Africa.

By Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic


Machine Gun Preacher isn't exactly Hobo With a Shotgun - the neo-exploitation gorefest that came and went from theaters this summer.

But it could signal the beginning of a new trend. How about Uzi Toting Urologist? Day Trader with a Semiautomatic? Exotic Dancer and Her Derringer? It's an NRA film festival!

Alas, Machine Gun Preacher has loftier ambitions.

Inspired by the true story of Sam Childers, a biker and junkie who found his calling saving children in war-torn East Africa, Machine Gun Preacher is a brawny biopic that gives action star Gerard Butler the opportunity to travel the road to holy redemption - and to shoot dope, and shoot at Sudanese thugs, in the process.

Directed by Marc Forster (Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland), the movie begins in 2003 in southern Sudan, with a deadly village raid. Huts go up in flames, mothers are murdered, and their young sons are carted off to join the perpetrators in a genocidal civil war.

Cut to a few years earlier: Childers is just released from prison. His wife, Lynn (Michelle Monaghan), is waiting for him, and after a quickie in the car, she tells him she has found God. He goes looking for a score.

But while his old motorcycle buddy Donnie (Michael Shannon, wasted) plummets into a druggie downward spiral, Sam gets his act together, starts a successful construction company, and starts going to church, too.

It is there that he hears the words of a guest minister from Uganda, offering a litany of carnage and strife, of disease-infested refugee camps, of unspeakable horror.

Sam gets it in his head to go to East Africa and to help build schools, shelters. The visit transforms him, and soon he is back in Africa again. When he returns home, he fund-raises; his business suffers, and so do his marriage and family life. When his daughter asks if he'll pay for a limo for the school formal, he declines.

"You love them black babies more than you love me!" she says, storming out of the room.

It could be argued, too - at least as Sam Childers is presented in Machine Gun Preacher - that he loves firing off rounds of ammunition at savage militia fighters more than he loves his kid, too. When he's not busy building orphanages, Sam can be found defending said orphanages from attack. Is he a man of God, or a man of guns?

This may have been an interesting question to consider, but in the hands of Forster and his screenwriter, Jason Keller (working from Childers' memoir, Another Man's War), the matter is glossed over. And Butler's performance, all brute force and brute emoting, doesn't help to clarify it.

Whether he's rescuing kids and giving them a home, or out in the bush in the dead of night on a mission of revenge, Childers' deeds are presented simply as heroic. By the end of Machine Gun Preacher, its title character has become a cartoon.


http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/steven_rea/20110930_His_mission__Save_kids__shoot_guns.html
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Thu Oct 06, 2011 7:44 pm

Some of these reviews has really bashed the director's work, haven't they? Foster could only work with what he had - screenplay, actors and crew.
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Thu Oct 06, 2011 7:49 pm

My case in point.

Title: Machine Gun Preacher

Director: Marc Forster

Starring: Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon, Souleymane Sy Savane, Madeline Carroll


Can faulty filmmaking kill the message and/or spirit of a movie? After seeing Machine Gun Preacher…the answer is yes & no.

While the product gets its point across, the delivery and execution behind-the-lens makes it tough to want to hear out this tale that has a unique attraction; for what the audience take-in on screen is still happening today. It’s just a shame the cinematic storytelling is not worthy of the subject matter it is depicting.

Sam Childers (Gerard Butler) is an in-and-out of jail motorcycle drug addict who has more sins than the average human. And he has a sweet mullet, to boot. After his latest heinous act, he returns to his trailer park home and begs his wife, Lynn (Michelle Monaghan) to help him. She instructs him to find God – as she did when she stopped dancing on the pole – and with a little effort, the tough guy begins to reform. He lands a job doing construction and is also putting more time in raising their daughter, Paige (Madeline Carroll).

While attending church, Sam learns about the morbid crimes against children by a group called the Lord’s Resistance Army in South Africa. Despite starting his own construction company and moving his family into a new home, he immediately feels the need to get over to the area and meet these tortures and murderers head-on all while trying to build a community center in the middle of the Sudan. As the years briskly go by, Sam is spending all his time, and directly giving up everything, to raise money to protect the rescued children – which he saved with the freedom fighters using guerilla warfare tactics. Problem is, the LRA’s keep coming with a vengeance.

This biographical film has its heart in the right place but the filmmakers struggled to convey a cinematic telling. Gerard Butler is excellent as Sam Childers but the flow of the screenplay can make one question his character’s actions. Things are moving too quick here and the respective scenes are more-or-less cliff notes. If you’re going to make a movie about a lauded man – who the African kids refer to as the “White Preacher” – one needs to have a better plan of attack. All they’re (filmmakers) doing is here is giving a gut-wrenching flavoring of Childers’ crusade overseas. We get a few tasty licks, yet the whole product is scattered all over the place; making the timeline difficult to connect to. The graphic nature will conjure up emotions as one sees piles of kids being burned along with deadly machine gun battles that ensue every twenty minutes or so. However, these are just bullet points that should have been reserved for a documentary…not a full-length feature.

While all the performers are believable – and the Hollywood scripting seems toned down here – the pacing of this depiction is a letdown. Still, about halfway through one accepts the below-average storytelling as the heartfelt shots of the tortured kids along with Sam dealing with his frustrated family on rare back-home visits, will get you feeling something. Knowing that this stuff is actually going on can mend the randomness of how scenes are pieced together and not obliterate the experience.

Overall, Machine Gun Preacher has violence trading off with certain sequences which can tug at the heart strings. But do understand that there is barely a shred of anything masquerading as a piece of cohesive storytelling with regards to the mechanics. Sam Childers deserves better than this even though the obvious message and/or purpose gets across. At the very least, this is a tolerable religion/spiritual genre picture people can embrace no matter what their background.

Technical: D

Story: C

Acting: A

Overal: C

Review by Joe Belcastro

http://www.shockya.com/news/2011/10/06/machine-gun-preacher-movie-review/#ixzz1a34deaTX
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:25 pm

The Montreal Gazette:

http://www.montrealgazette.com/entertainment/Review+Machine+Preacher/5514417/story.html


Review: Machine Gun Preacher

By Katherine Monk, Postmedia News October 6, 2011 7:02
Rating: 3 out of 5

Starring: Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon, Kathy Baker, Souleyman Sy Savane and Madeline Carroll

Playing at: AMC cinema

Parents’ guide: violence, coarse language


No movie has so brilliantly and earnestly stumbled through a moral minefield as Machine Gun Preacher. But because of its inability to reconcile its central conflict, it’s both a success and a failure at the same time.

Director Marc Forster (Finding Neverland) paints a broad canvas that takes us from the trailer parks of Pennsylvania to the Sudanese border and provides endless details for us to get lost in as he spins the true-life story of Sam Childers.

Childers is a former biker and criminal who found Jesus and wound up helping Sudanese orphans. The story opens with Childers (Gerard Butler) getting out of jail. There’s no attempt to make him likable in these first frames, and it’s a testament to Gerard Butler’s fearlessness as an actor that he lets Childers’s character come across in every grimace and slap.

Of course, watching Childers’s transformation is 90 per cent of the story arc, so Butler gives himself lots of room to redeem his character by alienating us right off the mark. And boy, does he make the most of it.

Slapping his wife (Michelle Monaghan) and essentially calling her a whore is enough to make us recoil. When she decides to stay with her abuser because she found Jesus and tries to make him see the light, we start to feel a little abused as viewers.

Eventually, the good wife succeeds in getting her husband baptized and born again. Suddenly the new Sam Childers owns a construction business and goes to church.

One of the missions takes him to Africa, where he helps build houses and schools. While there, he sees first-hand what is happening to the hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Sudan.

Forster intercuts a narrative about a child soldier into the Childers story, and while it succeeds in telling the horrific story of thousands of child soldiers, it’s an awkward device that leads to an equally awkward emotional conclusion.

So much of this movie is emotionally syncopated that it never clicks into narrative gear, and that’s not the fault of the director or the actors, but the material itself.

Childers not only goes to Africa to help and bear witness to the atrocities of the Sudan, he becomes personally engrossed in the saga and turns himself into a warrior for the cause.

When he watches children murdered en masse, he feels an urge to kill their killers before they have a chance to liquidate another busload of children.

We can’t help but empathize. How could anyone watch children murdered in front of them and not feel an urge to make a difference?

Picking up a machine gun and blowing the bad guys away is the keystone to Hollywood-style heroism. Childers brings a Dirty Harry sensibility to the problem of tribal warlords, political corruption and Western indifference, and in some ways it’s incredibly gratifying to watch it all play out on screen with a silent nod to the American frontier.

But it’s a bizarre exercise watching Sam Childers’s supposed salvation because, like a lot of aid, it happens with the help of an automatic weapon.

If Sam Childers had been able to wear a white stetson or a blue beret, we could have swallowed the whole movie without gagging because the moral gristle would be missing. But it’s there. And we choke.

Nothing sits well in this movie. It does not obey the classic rules of Hollywood cinema, where good guys are identifiable from the very beginning. It almost seems to go out of its way to steamroll convention, all the while expecting it to work when it needs to stoke the sentimental fires.

It’s an impossible equation to reconcile on so many levels. Then again, that seems to be the whole point of Childers’s journey, and this movie. It’s one you have to figure out for yourself.


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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Fri Oct 07, 2011 2:18 am

Film.com review:

http://www.film.com/movies/review-machine-gun-preacher-aims-for-easy-emotional-targets#fbid=LR3M98N_Q6e


Review: Machine Gun Preacher Aims for Easy Emotional Targets


When a Sudanese leader invites Sam Childers (Gerard Butler) to join him in attending peace talks, he firmly but politely declines, claiming that people sitting around in a room and talking about problems doesn’t actually accomplish anything. Sitting around in a theater and watching Machine Gun Preacher doesn’t solve anything either, but it fulfills a long-standing Hollywood tradition of forcing unbelievable-yet-true stories into the same blandly inspirational mold. After all, a documentary about the real, very much alive Childers recounting his experiences of taking up arms and saving children in Africa wouldn’t be nearly as exciting or moving as watching a bona fide movie star like Butler do it, right?

But I’m getting ahead of myself. At the start, we see Childers as he leaves prison for the umpteenth time to reunite with his wife, Lynn (Michelle Monaghan). She has some surprising news: she’s found Jesus and has decided to stop stripping to make ends meet. Sam isn’t keen on either idea and quickly falls into his old habits with Donnie (Michael Shannon), shooting up both heroin and drug dens in the name of a quick buck. After one particularly rough night, though, Sam gives this church thing a shot and soon finds himself in the Lord’s good graces.

Just as Lynn saved Sam, Sam proceeds to save Donnie before starting his own construction company, finding a new home for his family, building a new church for the community and then embarking on a mission to East Africa, where he can repair homes and build orphanages. However, the more he sees of regional atrocities, the more compelled he feels to join freedom fighters like Deng (Souleymane Sy Savane) in warding off intruders and rescuing children forced into their ranks.

Once Sam returns to Philly, seeking more resources with which to continue helping the villagers, some locals joke that he’s regarded as some sort of African Rambo. He takes offense at this label, and yet that feels like the movie’s own raison d’etre: to combine noble drama with righteous action. To be fair, the latter scenes mark an improvement over director Marc Forster’s recent Bond effort, Quantum of Solace, but the former material often feels like a regression for the filmmaker. While even Forster’s worst work has demonstrated a sense of mood and flair, Preacher tends to feel pat, episodic and obvious throughout.

It’s not as if Jason Keller’s screenplay does him any favors in that regard. Despite spanning perhaps a decade of Childers’ life, the events of the film hardly feel as such, demarcated solely by the arrival of an older actress playing his daughter. When an aid worker criticizes Sam’s brutish tactics, you can bet that he’ll be there to save her from harm when she could use it most, and when a mute, scarred orphan proves to be an unexpected companion, you bet that the young boy will end up cracking his unofficial vow of silence for an eye-rolling opportunity to share the sagest possible message of love with a grown man newly crippled by doubt.

The clichés fly like so many spent bullet casings, seemingly excused from being just that once the usual “true story” disclaimer goes by. Meanwhile, the aforementioned doubt, faced by Childers as his philanthropic efforts begin to take a toll on his home life, proves to be the most marginally interesting element of his story. Unfortunately, the suggestion that this changed man hasn’t really changed much – a junkie instead for a different kind of high, as prone to outbursts of now morally questionable violence as he had been before – is what fuels all of Butler’s shoutiest, hammiest moments. Whether dressing down a banker for not giving him another loan or chewing out his daughter for wanting a limo to take her to prom while other children starve, it’s Oskar Schindler’s “I could’ve saved one more!” speech cranked up to 11 every single time.

Until that tipping point, his performance is a serviceable one, though the gruff Scotsman still struggles mightily with pulling off a convincing American accent. He easily looks the part of rough-and-tumble biker, and he appears equally comfortable with wielding a rocket-propelled grenade launcher when the occasion calls for it. For all we know, the real Sam Childers would be too, but let’s face it – that just doesn’t look as cool on a poster.

Grade: D+
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Fri Oct 07, 2011 3:05 am


http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/entertainment/52681788-81/gun-machine-preacher-minutes.html.csp



‘Machine Gun Preacher’ tries too hard

By Scott D. Pierce

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Oct 06 2011 03:19PM
Updated Oct 6, 2011 03:39PM
“Machine Gun Preacher” is a faith-promoting story filled with extreme violence, drug use, f-bombs and sex. And yet it never mocks religion.

Gerard Butler stars in the true story of Sam Childers. In the first few minutes, we see him released from jail, have sex in a Pinto, verbally abuse his family, insist his wife (Michelle Monaghan) return to stripping, shoot heroin, commit violent armed robbery, spout racial epithets and nearly kill a guy.

But Sam finds God and turns his life around. He builds a church. He goes to East Africa to help people caught in a brutal civil war. He becomes an avenging angel and an addict — addicted to trying to save the Sudanese orphans, to the detriment of himself and his family. So he needs redeeming again.

Butler’s performance is good, but the movie is at least 20 minutes too long and yet still feels as if big chunks of the narrative are missing.

Director Marc Forster clearly sees this as an epic, inspirational tale. Frankly, it’s hard to criticize a movie determined to bring the plight of Sudanese orphans to the American public. It’s just too bad “Machine Gun Preacher” isn’t a better movie.
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Fri Oct 07, 2011 3:07 am

http://www.aurorasentinel.com/email_push/living/article_1a927eac-f046-11e0-b961-001cc4c002e0.html


REVIEW: Butler, Shannon shine in 'Machine Gun Preacher'

You can’t blame a good storyteller from embellishing a little now and then.

So when it comes to the real-life story of “Machine Gun Preacher” Sam Childers — the ex-con who raised hell, found Jesus, went to Africa and saved a lot of lives — you know the Hollywood treatment is going to take a few liberties.

Thankfully, the solid performances of Gerard Butler (as Childers) and Michael Shannon (“Revolutionary Road”) as his recovering junkie friend Donnie help ground the more fantastical aspects of Childers’ compelling life and times.

Our introduction to Sam comes as he’s leaving jail. He goes home to find his ex-stripper wife Lynn (Michelle Monaghan) is a born-again Christian; despite being none too pleased by this, Sam will be hard-pressed to not be changed by having his family back and a new life ahead of him.

Shannon and Butler each transform their characters beyond their wild days in brilliant fashion — Sam’s unease sitting in church in a dress shirt before being baptized is simple yet speaks volumes about the rough-edged Childers, who visits north Uganda on a mission trip and finds inspiration there.

“I know it sounds corny, but God spoke to me,” he says after coming home. Having seen the poor conditions faced by the Sudanese, he’s determined to build a church and go back to Africa — this time with boots for the Sudanese liberation army.

The conflict in Africa never overpowers the story, even though it provides striking images of poverty and violence. The film doesn’t shy away from framing the battles as a dispute between the Muslim north and Christian south, but the key to the story is not understanding the religious and geopolitical underpinnings of what’s happening in Africa — it’s understanding the faith Childers has in trying to help those caught in the middle of the fighting.

Thankfully, the story’s focus on Childers (and Butler’s portrayal of him) give “Machine Gun Preacher” a stunning resonance. Sam’s blistering sermons in the church he built underscore the anger and insecurity he brings home from the horrors he’s witnessed and the hypocrisy he confronts from parsimonious businessmen who won’t make the kinds of sacrifices he does.

And for all the good Childers does, the film doesn’t neglect the pain his absence creates back at home. We see the effects through the eyes of Sam’s daughter, Paige (Madeline Carroll), who is caught between the love she has for her father and the stress imposed through his convictions.

Director Marc Forster (“Quantum of Solace,” the upcoming “World War Z”) does an adequate job of effecting the right mood for these actors to sell themselves as real-life characters. The dark realism early on — namely, a raid on a south Sudanese village and, later, a drug house robbery by Sam and Donnie — paves the way for Sam to travel the all-too-familiar road of redemption, as uneasy as it is.

But above all, Butler’s performance gives great depth to “Machine Gun Preacher.” Sam is a man lost in the beginning, and for all the confidence he inspires and all the tough talk he delivers while preaching, he is just as adrift when his plans — in his eyes, the Lord’s work — go awry.

The proper word for it is “deft,” which is not a label I would affix to the dramatic range Butler has shown up to this point. “Machine Gun Preacher” may have been better saved for the documentary treatment if not for this promising turn by Butler.

“Machine Gun Preacher” is rated R for violent content, language, drug use and sexuality. Running time: 123 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.



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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:11 pm

‘Machine Gun Preacher’ Review: Butler Proves He’s More Than Just a Pretty Face

by Lauren Veneziani


Gerard Butler began his career by playing good-looking, muscular men like King Leonidas in ‘300.’ But too often the parts Butler chose were one-dimensional, like the sexist relationship advice writer who falls in love with Katherine Heigl in ‘The Ugly Truth.’

The same can be said of his performance in 2010’s ‘The Bounty Hunter,’ where he and Jennifer Aniston looked stunning together but we had little reason to care about their relationship.

In the newly-released ‘Machine Gun Preacher,’ Butler plays a burly ex-con who finds Jesus and wants to rebuild his life and help the children of East Africa. And, to Butler’s credit, he pulls off this complex character rather well.

Based on a true story, Gerard Butler plays Sam Childers, a former bike gang member, armed robber and heroin addict. After coming out of prison, Childers discovers his wife (Michelle Monaghan) has found God and considers herself Christian. Childers relapses and, after another crime, realizes that he wants to give religion a try, too. He ends up embracing Christianity and building a church where all the ‘mess-ups’ can come when they want to worship. Childers’ boisterous personality flows into his preaching, and he finds a new way to live his life.

He later goes on a mission trip to Uganda, and while the rest of the crew visits the city he convinces a local (Souleymane Sy Savane) to take him to southern Sudan. In the midst of that country’s civil war, Childers witnesses several heartbreaking sights, from herds of children wandering at night to a child killed by a land mine. The latter scene is so gruesome that several people in the audience, including me, gasped and shed tears.

We see Childers’ humanity come out in Africa, especially in the scene where he defends himself against children who were ‘drafted’ by the Lord’s Resistance Army (L.R.A.). The news of his exploits spreads, and the locals start calling him the “white preacher.”

When Childers returns home to Pennsylvania he starts planning to build an orphanage in southern Sudan. We see Childers struggle to raise money while losing contact with his wife and daughter.

“You love those black babies more than me,” his daughter tells him. It’s a wonderful thing what Childers is doing, but the film questions how much one can devote to an idealistic cause at the expense of one’s own family.

Butler is fantastic as Childers, but as wonderful as he is, we never quite see the reasoning behind the character’s life-altering decisions. Why does he want to pick up a machine gun and donate everything he has toward building an orphanage? Why is he more involved with what’s going on in Africa than his devoted family? The audience never gets clued in to what compels Childers to make these choices. The real Childers deserves a biopic like this, and it’s a very interesting story to tell. However, screenwriter Jason Keller should have better explained why Childers does what he does in order for the story to come full circle.

Despite its flaws,‘Machine Gun Preacher’ gives viewers a new appreciation for Butler’s talents, and I hope we see him in more nuanced roles like this in the future.


http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/lveneziani/2011/10/07/machine-gun-preacher-review-butler-proves-hes-more-than-just-a-pretty-face/
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:12 pm

‘Machine Gun Preacher’ tries too hard

By Scott D. Pierce

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Oct 06 2011


“Machine Gun Preacher” is a faith-promoting story filled with extreme violence, drug use, f-bombs and sex. And yet it never mocks religion.

Gerard Butler stars in the true story of Sam Childers. In the first few minutes, we see him released from jail, have sex in a Pinto, verbally abuse his family, insist his wife (Michelle Monaghan) return to stripping, shoot heroin, commit violent armed robbery, spout racial epithets and nearly kill a guy.

But Sam finds God and turns his life around. He builds a church. He goes to East Africa to help people caught in a brutal civil war. He becomes an avenging angel and an addict — addicted to trying to save the Sudanese orphans, to the detriment of himself and his family. So he needs redeeming again.

Butler’s performance is good, but the movie is at least 20 minutes too long and yet still feels as if big chunks of the narrative are missing.

Director Marc Forster clearly sees this as an epic, inspirational tale. Frankly, it’s hard to criticize a movie determined to bring the plight of Sudanese orphans to the American public. It’s just too bad “Machine Gun Preacher” isn’t a better movie.


http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/entertainment/52681788-81/gun-machine-preacher-minutes.html.csp
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:14 pm

Not My Mother’s Christian Film

October 7, 2011

By Anne Morse


I was 13 years old when my mother took me, in 1970, to see The Cross and the Switchblade, an unabashedly evangelical film about New York gang leader Nicky Cruz, who converted to Christianity through the influence of Pastor David Wilkerson (played by Pat Boone). As the film’s credits rolled by, several young men walked to the front of the theater to invite viewers to talk with them about Christ.

What a long way Christian films have traveled in the four decades since. As I walked out of a pre-release screening of Machine Gun Preacher, I couldn’t help thinking that my Baptist mother would never have allowed me to see this R-rated film, because it contained all the things she abhorred: Lots of profanity, graphic violence, and sexual situations.

Machine Gun Preacher is based on Another Man’s War, an autobiography by former hard-drinking biker and drug dealer Sam Childers (played by Gerard Butler) who undergoes a spiritual transformation and finds a new calling as a protector of Sudanese children. The film opens on a nighttime scene of a peaceful, sleeping village in southern Sudan in 2003. Suddenly, soldiers from northern Sudan, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), attack the village, killing adults and kidnapping children — and forcing one small boy to kill his own mother.

The horror fades into a scene in Pennsylvania, a few years earlier. An angry, cursing Sam Childers is being released from jail into the custody of his stripper wife, Lynn. On the way home, they pull the car over for a quickie before arriving at their trailer, where their daughter Paige and Sam’s mother are waiting.

Their lives change when Lynn becomes a Christian and gives up her stripper job in favor of work at a mushroom-packing factory. Sam eventually accepts Christ as well and is baptized at a local church, where he learns of the great need for people to travel to East Africa to help with rebuilding the villages destroyed in the civil war. Sam, a construction worker, flies to Uganda and begins working with the mission. One day he convinces local freedom fighters to take him on a bus to Sudan to see for himself what’s going on there. He is horrified at what he finds: women and children who have been butchered by LRA soldiers; others have had body parts chopped off. On a subsequent trip, Sam encounters a group of terrified children hiding from the soldiers and loads as many of them as he can onto his truck, promising the rest they’ll be picked up later. When he returns, he finds to his horror that the children have been burned to death.

Earlier in his life, Sam fought because he loved fighting. Now, he is fighting for a purpose: to save the children of Sudan from starvation, rape, murder, or being forced into becoming soldiers. He becomes a literal soldier for Christ: Enraged at the way the enemy is picking off the children at the orphanage he’s built, he gathers a truckload of freedom fighters and AK-47s and actively seeks out members of the LRA. We see a number of violent battle scenes as the two sides repeatedly clash. A young woman who works for an NGO tells Sam — who has become known as a local Rambo — that his approach is wrong and dangerous. Sam’s response: You fight the war your way, and I’ll fight it my way. Later, Sam is forced to rescue the woman when her naive approach to evil nearly gets her killed.

On his visits back home, Sam’s anger spirals out of control when he realizes how unwilling his neighbors are to donate the necessary funds to keep the orphanage running, and he explodes at his daughter — whom he has neglected in favor of helping African children — when she asks if she and her friends can hire a limo for her senior prom. It’s evident that Sam has made his passion for the children of Africa his idol; he is so consumed by their needs that he almost destroys his family.

Viewers will have some juicy moral dilemmas to discuss over their pizza afterward: What does justice look like? Does God really support what Sam does? And is it ever right for civilians to kill in order to save innocents — even in a lawless country where no government will intervene to stop the attacks? The real Sam Childers appears as the credits rolls by to answer that question: “If someone took your son or daughter, and you asked me to find them, would you question the way I would do it?” he asks.

Clearly, Machine Gun Preacher is not my mother’s Christian film. It’s not a conversion “message” film, as are the films Billy Graham’s World Wide Pictures has been making since 1953 — films which few people outside of evangelical churches have even heard of. The new kind of Christian film is partly about a growing sophistication among Christians carving out film careers after half a century of the Church rejecting everything Hollywood stands for. But it’s also about a shift within American Christiandom, says Erik Lokkesmoe, co-founder of Different Drummer, a film-marketing company that mobilizes fans and audiences. Younger people are more likely than oldsters to watch films, and they want something different: Not conversion stories, but conversation. They want films that help them recognize the world’s darkness and the brokenness of humanity. They want hints of grace, not alter calls.

“This audience is looking for honesty and storytelling, and they’re looking for characters they can identify with,” he notes. “They’re looking for films that end with no nicely wrapped-up solutions; they want ambiguity — the type of films they can have a conversation about with their friends.”

This is why, in the first 15 minutes of Machine Gun Preacher, it’s important to show the reality of Sam Childer’s pre-conversation life in all its gritty rawness. Films like this tap into stories that reflect common grace, so that when people leave the theater, “they’re haunted by something bigger than themselves,” Lokkesmoe says.


http://www.nationalreview.com/home-front/279512/not-my-mothers-christian-film/anne-morse
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:31 pm

http://www.cleveland.com/sun/intermission/index.ssf/2011/10/post_132.html


The ugly truth: Butler misfires
as true-life 'Machine Gun Preacher'


Part eye for an eye, incredibly down and dirty, and all mostly out of synch with itself, “Machine Gun Preacher” glorifies a reformed bad guy with a tendency to lose his temper.


Executive producer Gerard Butler, perhaps with his own sights set on awards recognition, gamely gives it a go as Sam Childers, a scary drug dealer who somehow sees the light after numerous run-ins with the law and eventually starts fighting truly violent men in Sudan. Honest!
The Pennsylvania biker doesn’t exactly go through hell to mend his ways but, as based on a true story, we do get to watch how Childers emerges from life as a very nasty ex-con to become the titled man of God, even starting his own small backwoods congregation. At least, that’s the way director Marc Forster tells it, and Forster, after all, is the guy who put Halle Berry through her Oscar-winning paces in “Monster’s Ball” long before he almost made a shambles of the James Bond legacy in the Daniel Craig-pushed “Quantum of Solace.” (In fairness, Forster told much better stories in nicely handling “Finding Neverland” and “The Kite Runner.”)

Here, first-time screenwriter Jason Keller gives Forster’s somewhat shaky action bones a workout in the first reel. That’s when the binging Childers ridiculously shoots up his junkie pal/driver (an against-type Michael Shannon) in a speeding automobile before jumping into the backseat for a few brutal, knife-wielding moments with a similarly lowlife hitchhiker.

By then, we already had witnessed Childers inject himself with heroin next to a filthy toilet and make love to his ex-stripper wife (Michelle Monaghan), this time in the front seat of another car, before roughly belittling her for giving up her work to become a born-again Christian.


Forster is finding solace in "Preacher" practice.
Somehow, the soon-to-be-heroic figure leaves the drugs behind — hey, there’s obviously a reason they call it dope – and tags along to church one Sunday with the missus, their daughter (Madeline Carroll) and his mom (Kathy Baker). Soon, Childers hears the pivotal sermon about atrocities in eastern Africa, where such genuine viciousness includes children coerced into killing their parents, lips and noses too easily sliced off faces, and limbs left hanging after land-mine explosions.

Clearly, the visuals do not suggest entertaining viewing, the narrative plods on for two grueling hours, and the lack of insight into Childers are almost as sparse as the inspiration a true story normally might offer in spades.

The latter only starts to swell at times but mostly during the closing credits, when the real missionary who became the Machine Gun Preacher appears briefly with some of the beloved orphans he apparently helped save.

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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:34 pm

http://screenrant.com/machine-gun-preacher-reviews-benk-133783/


‘Machine Gun Preacher’ Review


Is the ‘based on a true story’ adaptation of a reformed drug addict turned protector of Sudanese orphans as exciting as the life that inspired it – or does ‘Machine Gun Preacher’ get bogged down in the details? Read our review.


At first glance, for many moviegoers, Machine Gun Preacher might have sounded like some obscure graphic novel adaptation – especially considering the film stars kick-butt action man Gerard Butler. That said, for anyone unfamiliar with the real-life name Sam Childers, or the numerous non-profit organizations he’s founded, the story of Machine Gun Preacher is wrought with just as much danger and human drama as the pages of a superhero comic book.

That said, while Sam Childers and the story captured in his book, Another Man’s War are no doubt larger-than-life, that doesn’t automatically mean that Machine Gun Preacher is going to be a worthwhile film adaptation. Is director Marc Forster’s (Monster’s Ball, The Kite Runner) ”based on a true story” movie a compelling and inspiring representation of Childers’ experiences – or an over-stuffed biopic that gets lost in the twist and turns of real life?


Unfortunately, while Machine Gun Preacher definitely has a lot going for it – the film also routinely falls short of finding a good balance between the development of Childers’ worldview and on-the-nose dramatic beats that attempt to “explain” key moments in his evolution. The real life Childers’ story takes some sharp turns, and subsequently, the movie has to cover a myriad of events in a short period of time. As a result, Machine Gun Preacher is a pretty jumbled and drawn-out film that focuses on a series of important snapshots in Childers’ life, instead of telling a concise, focused, and thoroughly developed throughline of the overarching story.

The Hollywood version of Childers depicts a reckless and hate-filled ex-con and drug addict who, upon his release, continues his destructive downward spiral – until a rock bottom moment causes Childers to reject his prior life and embrace the values of the Christian church. While on a construction trip in North Africa (to build a mission church), Childers is exposed to the horrors of the Second Sudanese Civil War – specifically the large-scale murders and abductions of children. Upon returning home, Childers embarks on what becomes a life-long project: to rescue and protect children in warring nations. It’s a journey that rocks the foundation of his faith and threatens the stability of his home life – as well as bringing Childers face to face with the terrors of war-torn Sudan: assassination attempts, ruthless mercenaries, and child soldiers (among others).

The movie covers a lot of ground (about ten years in fictional time) that actually accounts for about thirty years of Childers’ actual life. As a result, Machine Gun Preacher takes a lot of liberties in an attempt to streamline the narrative – omitting Childers’ son entirely from the story as well as combining a number of people into single composites such as Childers’ “best friend” Donnie (played by Michael Shannon). However, despite attempts at tightening the story, the film is still a bloated and bumpy experience – with nearly every scene forcing a not-so-subtle story beat onto moviegoers.

As a result, each step in Childers’ evolution from drug-dealing biker to an impassioned “freedom fighter” appears to happen in a flash: his conversion to Christianity (which actually took years) practically occurs overnight and his growing frustration with American consumer culture (juxtaposed with the needs of the Sudanese children) comes to a head at a posh dinner party. It’s not that the scenes themselves aren’t interesting – it’s just that throughout the film many of these moments lack much buildup, as if each one is supposed to communicate a larger moral or act as a galvanizing experience to propel Childers forward. There are very few scenes that simply allow the audience to absorb what is happening – without throttling the story forward to the next “defining” set piece.


That said, a lot these moments are still powerful – even if they don’t come together to form a competent overarching story. Butler delivers a number of especially engrossing moments as Childers – and successfully transitions the man from a despicable and disappointing human being to someone the audience will want to root for, even when his actions challenge preconceived ideas of a “hero.” The supporting cast, which includes Michelle Monaghan as Lynn Childers, also rises to the occasion – even if the narrative sometimes bungles their contributions.

Machine Gun Preacher offers an interesting set of juxtapositions, i.e. a God-loving guy kills mercenaries to free children and becomes so overwhelmed by the horror around him that he loses faith in humanity and God; however, only some of the scenes are successfully able to make sense of the underlying thematic material. Surprisingly, for a movie about the power of human will in combination with faith, some of the more religious elements come across as caricature, not individuated examples of Christian communities. This cliched portrayal of Christianity is most noticeable when Butler has to deliver a lot of “preachy” dialogue.

Side note: The film is pretty violent (earning the biopic an R-rating) and featuring a number of graphic moments that will not no doubt be challenging for some moviegoers. The Machine Gun Preacher tone is actually pretty fitting, considering the have-gun-will-travel attitude of Childers, but audience members who are expecting a more straightforward story about faith-in-action might be overwhelmed – and will be confronted several times by especially disturbing scenes.

There’s no doubt Sam Childers is an intriguing lens through which to view the horrors of Joseph Kony and the LRA’s campaign in Sudan but some audiences are no doubt going to find that despite a competent leading man, Machine Gun Preacher tackles way too much material to present a cohesive onscreen experience. Anyone who is especially interested in the source story will probably find Machine Gun Preacher to be worth the price of admission, but not a standout experience. The film will definitely help raise awareness for Childers’ continuing work around the world but many moviegoers may want to just visit MachineGunPreacher.org instead – and then wait for Childers’ upcoming, and hopefully superior, documentary.

If you’re still on the fence about Machine Gun Preacher, check out the trailer below:



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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Tue Oct 11, 2011 7:13 pm

REVIEW: Butler, Shannon shine in 'Machine Gun Preacher'

CHRISTOPHER HARROP, Staff Writer Aurora Sentinel
You can’t blame a good storyteller from embellishing a little now and then.

So when it comes to the real-life story of “Machine Gun Preacher” Sam Childers — the ex-con who raised hell, found Jesus, went to Africa and saved a lot of lives — you know the Hollywood treatment is going to take a few liberties.

Thankfully, the solid performances of Gerard Butler (as Childers) and Michael Shannon (“Revolutionary Road”) as his recovering junkie friend Donnie help ground the more fantastical aspects of Childers’ compelling life and times.

Our introduction to Sam comes as he’s leaving jail. He goes home to find his ex-stripper wife Lynn (Michelle Monaghan) is a born-again Christian; despite being none too pleased by this, Sam will be hard-pressed to not be changed by having his family back and a new life ahead of him.

Shannon and Butler each transform their characters beyond their wild days in brilliant fashion — Sam’s unease sitting in church in a dress shirt before being baptized is simple yet speaks volumes about the rough-edged Childers, who visits north Uganda on a mission trip and finds inspiration there.

“I know it sounds corny, but God spoke to me,” he says after coming home. Having seen the poor conditions faced by the Sudanese, he’s determined to build a church and go back to Africa — this time with boots for the Sudanese liberation army.

The conflict in Africa never overpowers the story, even though it provides striking images of poverty and violence. The film doesn’t shy away from framing the battles as a dispute between the Muslim north and Christian south, but the key to the story is not understanding the religious and geopolitical underpinnings of what’s happening in Africa — it’s understanding the faith Childers has in trying to help those caught in the middle of the fighting.

Thankfully, the story’s focus on Childers (and Butler’s portrayal of him) give “Machine Gun Preacher” a stunning resonance. Sam’s blistering sermons in the church he built underscore the anger and insecurity he brings home from the horrors he’s witnessed and the hypocrisy he confronts from parsimonious businessmen who won’t make the kinds of sacrifices he does.

And for all the good Childers does, the film doesn’t neglect the pain his absence creates back at home. We see the effects through the eyes of Sam’s daughter, Paige (Madeline Carroll), who is caught between the love she has for her father and the stress imposed through his convictions.

Director Marc Forster (“Quantum of Solace,” the upcoming “World War Z”) does an adequate job of effecting the right mood for these actors to sell themselves as real-life characters. The dark realism early on — namely, a raid on a south Sudanese village and, later, a drug house robbery by Sam and Donnie — paves the way for Sam to travel the all-too-familiar road of redemption, as uneasy as it is.

But above all, Butler’s performance gives great depth to “Machine Gun Preacher.” Sam is a man lost in the beginning, and for all the confidence he inspires and all the tough talk he delivers while preaching, he is just as adrift when his plans — in his eyes, the Lord’s work — go awry.

The proper word for it is “deft,” which is not a label I would affix to the dramatic range Butler has shown up to this point. “Machine Gun Preacher” may have been better saved for the documentary treatment if not for this promising turn by Butler.

“Machine Gun Preacher” is rated R for violent content, language, drug use and sexuality. Running time: 123 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.


http://www.aurorasentinel.com/guide_entertainment/on_screen/article_1a927eac-f046-11e0-b961-001cc4c002e0.html
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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:22 am

http://theotherjournal.com/filmwell/2011/10/11/machine-gun-preacher-forster-2011/


Machine Gun Preacher (Forster, 2011)
by on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 · 4 Comments

Once upon a time in American cinema, a character from the Middle East was likely to be the villain of the story. Upon other times, homosexual characters were portrayed as condemning caricatures. But today, if we meet a character who professes Christian faith, it’s a safe bet to assume he’ll be exposed as a charlatan, a hypocrite, a monster, … or, at best, a pest. Priests and preachers? They’re the worst of all.

“Tolerance!”—that’s the name of today’s mandatory American religion. And there’s only one out-of-context Scripture in its liturgy: “Judge not lest ye be judged.” Nevertheless, there’s always an exception. The mob will not be satisfied if they don’t have someone to blame for their own discomfort. And so American storytellers and artists continue to flaunt ignorance and prejudice, happy to serve up examples of the Scapegoat of the Age.

To be fair, caricatures have their inspirations. A few terrorists have been known to come from the Middle East. From time to time, we learn that it’s possible to find villainy in the hearts of gays… or Christians. While the vast majority of priests seem to be gentle, compassionate souls whose hearts are broken at news of a scandal, we cannot deny that the occasional crook dons those humble robes. And what’s this? Do you sense a change in the weather? More and more new movies are hanging a target sign on bankers. (See Tower Heist.)

Nevertheless, crowds will still gather for the opportunity to hate straw-man Christians and throw them to the lions. This year, we’ve had Salvation Boulevard already, and here comes Red State.

Now, I’m not calling for filmmakers to fight anti-Christian prejudice with Christian propaganda. Movies that airbrush Christians into blameless heroes are as bad or worse as their opposite. But I was hopeful that Marc Forster’s new film Machine Gun Preacher might offer a thoughtful alternative to the parade of pathetic Christian straw men being paraded through cineplexes. The trailer and pre-relase hype promised an inspiring film about a man whose life was transformed by an encounter with Christ. And to lure the audience that made The Passion of the Christ a hit, marketers targeted Christian moviegoers.

And God be praised: I’m relieved to report that the movie doesn’t make a mockery of Christians, or anybody else.

But then again, it doesn’t show much evidence of understanding them, or comprehending anything about the Jesus that inspires them.

Forster’s film does better at portraying a preacher than most “Christian movies” do at portraying people who don’t believe in God; at least Forster treats his central character, Sam Childers, as a complicated human being. But the movie, like its Christian hero, is disappointing, and even frustrating, in all kinds of ways.



As it opens, Sam Childers (Gerard Butler) is released from prison like John Belushi in The Blues Brothers. And, like Belushi, he’s not in any mood to accept any assignments from God. Not yet.

Then, as if striving to convince viewers that this isn’t going to be a squeaky clean “Christian movie,” Forster pours all kinds of “gritty” material into the opening sequences. Childers is flagrantly foul-mouthed, violent, and he has hot sex with Lynn, his ex-stripper wife (Michelle Monaghan), in his car just moments after his release. As the film quickly earns its R-rating, churchgoers who responded to the film’s Christian-specific marketing campaign may stagger toward the exits.

But lo, Lynn has found Jesus!

This news doesn’t please Childers. He commands her to go back to stripping, and then throws himself back into his old thieving, heroin-shooting, wife-abusing ways. As you might expect, he’s throwing himself off a cliff for the rock-bottom belly flop that will trigger the conversion experience promised by the film’s title. Before you know it, Lynn is dragging his grumbling ass to church.

The “Mission from God” comes hard on the heels of his conversion. Swinging to the opposite extreme, Childers never seems to find any kind of balance. He goes from reckless, thoughtless self-destruction to reckless, thoughtless missionary work. Leaving behind his wife, his children, and his bewildered junkie pal (Michael Shannon, making the most of very little), he’s off to help build an orphanage for those poor, vulnerable Africans in the Sudan.

It’s here that Forster starts knocking down opportunities for thoughtful, challenging storytelling. Imagine a remake of The Mission that eliminates the Jeremy Irons character and replaces Robert De Niro with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and you’ll get the idea.

Machine Gun Preacher finds its raison-d’être when shootouts break out between Childers and the gangs of barbarians who close in on an African orphanage. I held on, anticipating an exploration of obvious questions: Should followers of Christ carry heavy artillery? Should missionaries wage war against barbarians while their families suffer from their absence at home?

But I left the theatre wanting. Wanting a lot, actually.

We’re given surprisingly little food for thought when it comes to the question of the complicated tensions between Christian faith and violence. At one point, we see an aid worker who questions Childers’ ethics, but then a villain strikes her, silencing both her attempt at diplomacy and the film’s investigation of ethical questions. For all of their bluster, these filmmakers just don’t have the guts to confront such challenges. They probably don’t want to offend audiences that came to see a handsome white hero protect poor black children… the movie that the poster promised.

To his credit, Forster does a decent job creating a persuasive look at life in the Sudan. And I enjoyed the montage of clips that run through the end credits, which deliver the real Sam Childers, his family, and glimpses of his workplace. (Oh, if only Gerard Butler had grown out his facial hair to resemble that really impressive mustache of the real Childers, this film would have been much more interesting to watch!)

But his treatment of the force that changed Childers from criminal to Christian isn’t very useful. We’re given scenes of a church service and a baptism, but we don’t get into the Scriptures that we see Childers reading, nor is the Jesus that Childers’ worships given much consideration. What does faith really mean in Childers’ life, when it throws him into a panic that suggests he thinks it’s up to him to save the world? We see him staring at an open Bible, but most of the time we see him charging aggressively about and waving a gun, which raises all kinds of questions that the movie shows no interest in addressing.

Childers is clearly moved by the sight of vulnerable, helpless Africans. But does the film care to move us with the reality of their desperate plight? Does it echo the important question “Who is my neighbor?” To an extent, I suppose. But if the filmmakers wanted us to care about Sudan, they might have thought to help us get to know some characters there. Instead, we just see familiar images of Africans being harmed and feeling desperate. The film is so focused on Childers, we don’t learn more than a sound-bite summary about the conflicts in Sudan. And when it comes to the African characters, few moviegoers will remember more than a couple of first names.

It’s a common problem in commercial American films: the screenwriter becomes so interested in the main character that everything becomes about making that character compelling. As a result the rest of the characters don’t seem to have real lives except in how they react to, or are involved with, or trouble the hero. Childers’ family seems to live lives of worrying about him, arguing with him, pleading with him, or beaming at his transformation.

This only enhances and inflates a character that already appears to be fueled by steroids.

Machine Gun Preacher works far better as a movie about Gerard Butler’s testosterone-fueled screen presence than as a movie about a crisis and how we respond to it. It works so hard to convince us of Childers’ brawny masculinity that it becomes unintentionally amusing. As portrayed by Butler, Childers is so busy flexing his “guns” that you half-expect him to march out into a barrage of gunfire and tear the enemy apart with his bare hands. He’s always aggressive, brusque, sweaty, and feverish. Even in his “quieter” moments he’s swinging an axe… or something.



So, while Forster admirably avoids the fashionable caricature of Christian community, his title character cannot be listed with the few respectable big-screen Christian characters. This is not a picture of Christ doing a redemptive work in a man’s head and heart. Rather, it’s a portrait of a man whose developing sense of compassion is repeatedly fractured by impatience and aggression. I see very little comprehension in the man—or rather, in his big-screen avatar—that he has really meditated on the message and the nature of the Jesus he professes.

When he’s shouting his sermons at his hometown church, and the congregants fail to applaud him for his violent outrage, are we supposed to judge them as hard-hearted or fearful? I hope not. Is this film a call for missionaries who carry a Bible in one hand and an AK-47 in the other? God forbid.

And what about Childers’ family? The film seems to want us to forgive the fact that this character has all but forgotten the wife who needs her husband, and the kids who need their father. (Their lives remain in a state of suspension as he goes on fulfilling this mission from God.)

This could have been a fascinating character study of a man pulled to pieces by conflicting forces. The details presented in the film suggest that the material was there, available to an observant storyteller. Does Forster want us to view Childers with increasing concern, worried that he has just reshaped his destructive energy into a new shape? I don’t think the filmmakers know for certain whether they’re giving us a hero’s story or a portrait of a lost and dangerous man.

Oh well, it could have been worse. This could have been a Mel Gibson movie.



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PostSubject: Re: Reviews   Sat Nov 05, 2011 10:17 pm

Ouch.

http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/Butler-right-man-preacher-role/story-13755037-detail/story.html

Butler is not right man for preacher role

ONE man can make a difference in Marc Forster's inspirational true story, based on a screenplay by Jason Keller.

Unfortunately, that man isn't Gerard Butler, whose portrayal of thug-turned-guerrilla humanitarian Sam Childers seems to have one eye on awards consideration when the actor should have kept both focused on an emotionally rich performance.

In truth, Keller's overlong screenplay does Butler few favours, failing to empathise with the lead character as he abandons his family to wage a one-man war in the Sudan when he has pressing responsibilities closer to home.

Nor does it help that while we admire Childers for his self-sacrifice and bravery, we don't fully understand the reasons for his crusade or see his personal anguish reflected on the big screen.

Director Forster hammers home the horrors perpetrated by Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in shocking scenes of slaughter and cruelty.

The film opens with a night-time attack on a village and the sickening image of a young boy forced to bludgeon his weeping mother to death.

On this most primal level at least, Machine Gun Preacher hits hard.

Violent biker Sam Childers (Butler) emerges from prison, seemingly intent on returning to his boozy, degenerate old ways, much to the chagrin of his wife Lynn (Michelle Monaghan) and daughter Paige (Madeline Carroll).

Then, miraculously, Sam finds God at the church attended by Lynn and her mother Daisy (Kathy Baker) and he is deeply moved by a sermon from a pastor who tends to a flock in Africa.

So Sam decides to be good a Christian and travel to war-torn Sudan to build an orphanage for the children who have been caught up in the bloody conflict.

In the process, Sam witnesses shocking acts of brutality perpetrated by the LRA against the boys and girls and he takes up arms to protect them, assisted by Sudan People's Liberation Army soldier Deng (Souleymane Sy Savane).

Machine Gun Preacher has its heart in the right place and the true story that underpins this uneven fiction is extraordinary.
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