Machine Gun Preacher, with Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon, Madeline Carroll, Souleymane Sy Savane & Kathy Baker. Marc Forster, director. At first, I hesitated at seeing this film. African atrocities are not usually my cup of tea & I didn’t have the best of days. I thought about it & walked right in. Sometimes, you just have to do things your brain is yelling at you to avoid. It was an honor to see this film.
Butler is an absolute reflection of the sun, with his portrayal of a hard man. Who lives fast, without initial regard for others, found personal salvation in his religion & instinctively searched to help others in a land far from his home.
I’ve never seen Butler exude so much human emotion, in a role. I haven’t seen every single one of his movies but enough to get a notion of what he’s capable of doing. This is no story of a larger than life myth, this is a story of a very real, larger than life man who, to this day, is fighting to save children orphaned by the monster Kony, in Africa.
For those of you unfamiliar with this particular blight on the face of the Earth, Kony is an evil in Africa that has stolen thousands & thousands of children, forcing them to join his “Lord’s Resistance Army”, terrorizing & slaughtering hundreds of thousands more in Northern Uganda, Southern Sudan. Believe me, you don’t want me to detail his atrocities.
Butler’s Sam Childers ends up in Uganda with the intent, inspired at first by his Christian Evangelical faith to build a church & orphanage for children left orphaned by this continuing drama in Africa.
The film is a study of a man that shuttles between his home in America, his family, friends & congregation – & his self-appointed duties watching over these children overseas & fighting the good fight. The overriding moral of this excessively emotional film is that Childers is doing what he can to help these children, in his own way. He’s brutish, hard & violent. That is the kind of man he is, within his social class in America. (It’s a big country.)
This film is not for the faint of heart.
Monaghan & Shannon (of Boardwalk Empire) each play their roles as Americans within their own worlds, each tied to & relying upon Childers & what support (emotionally & financially) he supplies. They are each excellent & paint very different, personal concerns – than those in Africa.
I can’t say that I easily get teary-eyed on cue, but this movie really wrenched a lot out of me. It definitely & successfully presented to the audience the actual scale of numbers, of children involved. One only had to multiply what they saw, a thousandfold. It’s still a big world & there are many corners of it that are filled with horror. I may enjoy my horror & gore films but the horrors of reality are beyond anything that we can imagine, sitting in our armchairs or zipping to our mega marts.
I’m not a crusader by nature & I do not normally sympathize, on an internal level, with things that are beyond my particular world & space. However; once every blue moon I do come across these realities; whether by word of mouth or by stumbling upon them like a fool. I may not be in a position to do something about the inequities in life & the monsters that slaughter families, but I can certainly communicate what I’ve found & pass on what I’ve discovered.
While this film does not necessarily focus on the unseen Kony, he exists in the background. Ever a threat. A real threat.
The film does focus on the children saved & protected & countless others that seem to be waiting behind each bush & hill.
I recommend this film for those strong of heart & who are not too judgmental. The hero is not someone that negotiates for what he’s trying to accomplish & it’s not clear what his actual goal is (now that I think about it).
Look for Sy Savane, who plays an African freedom fighter named Deng. He’s the anchor to all the chaos you’ll be exposed to.
By the way, I suggest a strong coffee to go with this motion picture. That would be best.