Based on a true story, “Machine Gun Preacher” is a Baptism by gunfire. Sam Childers, (Gerard Butler) is a scumbag. He’s in jail for God-knows-what. He’s a junkie who’d be high on crack for a month! He’s a thief & probably a murderer too. Oh and top it all off in a callous manner, he’s upset at his wife Lynn, (Michelle Monaghan) for quitting her night job….as a stripper! This guy’s a real piece of work.
Then Childers “gets right” with The Lord. He created a church for sinners, The Shekinah Fellowship Church in Central City, Pennsylvania. His life’s journey takes him all the way to Africa, more specifically, Sudan. Sam just wanted to help out & lend a hand. It’s there where he witnessed first-hand atrocities that happens to innocent kids every single day. The game-changer: witnessing a young child getting his limbs blown off by way of a landmine. It was that millisecond that changed Sam Childers forever.
Director Marc Forster doesn’t pull any punches. You’ll see evil at work. To quote Sam Childers, “I found God in 1992, but I found Satan in 1998 in Sudan.” Childers organized almost suicidal rescue missions to find & retrieve children whose lives have been shattered by this bloody civil war. Being good with his hands, Sam built the Angels of East Africa Orphanage. Let’s talk numbers. The orphanage feeds at least 1,200 hungry children daily who are traumatized, injured, tortured & abandoned. In the 125-degree heat, his place is not a mirage, it’s a miracle.
Saving kids in Sudan comes at a cost: Human life. The white preacher quickly garnered a reputation of being an eye-for-an-eye type of man. If a few evil men with guns were harming dozens of innocent kids, Sam’s decision was clear cut. Take out the bad guys with a machine gun & rush the kids to safety & shelter.
Gerry Butler was up for the task. He dove into this role by studying the man, Sam Childers. If there was a scene where Sam was fixing a sink, Butler trained with licensed plumbers. On the job site, he worked construction contractors. And yes, he mixed things up with full on tattooed bikers to get that leather, tough guy feel just right. Butler also watched Childers speak for many many hours. He even taped his church sermons & spent lots of time with his family. Total immersion. I love when actors do everything humanly possible to get the role right. Plus, the guy does his own stunts in this film.
I liked how two worlds were showcased. If Sam was saving kids in Africa, you have the feeling he was missing his family back in the states. When he’s back with his family, you can tell he wants to be back to save more children. Very powerful usage of both worlds.
If you want to help the cause, simply purchase Sam Childer’s book, ‘Another Man’s War: The True Story of One Man’s Battle to Save Children in The Sudan.’
The story of Sam Childers is an amazing one. “Machine Gun Preacher” is Rated R for extreme violence & drug usage.
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