Posted by: greercn | November 2, 2011

Machine Gun Preacher

It’s frankly weird. Described as an “action/thriller”, quite a lot of big and small ideas are thrown in and there are lots of longish bits during which nothing much happens.

Sam Childers is a tough guy. While he is in prison, his wife finds God. There are scenes in this which will make you feel God should have hidden better. Sam’s church has dreadful music, with the worst happy clappie off-key tunes.

Anyway, God tells Sam to go and build a church in Pennsylvania and an orphanage in South Sudan and Sam ends up violating the first rule of international humanitarian aid agencies which is, usually, to avoid interference in local affairs.

Sam is good with guns and guns are integral to the plot.

The real life Sam looks a little like Gerard Butler but might not be swooned over as much. Michelle Monaghan plays his unbelievably tolerant wife, Lynn. Michelle sighs a lot.

Michael Shannon as Donnie and Souleymane Sy Savane as Deng are excellent in the supporting roles.  The war scenes will wrench your emotions around.

One of the best things about this movie is that there is very little judgement involved, so you get to form your own thoughts about the characters and the story. Clearly, many of the faces are not those of Sudan and that may or may not irritate you.

Civil war is bad and hurting children is just awful, but that’s about it for preconceptions. Even the God stuff tones down as the story unfolds. Heathens will wince a little, but will not seethe.

The preview audience at the Romford Vue was very engrossed and, apart from mostly arriving late, seemed to stay quiet. The seats were very comfy and all of us had been invited to a ShowFilmFirst free event.

My companion – a true movie lover – enjoyed it but he wasn’t as enthusiastic as he can be. I think that’s because we both expected a mindless shoot-em-up action thriller and we got a film that asks a lot of questions about how you would respond to the same circumstances faced by Sam.

Despite the fact that Gerard Butler could read a catalogue aloud and still sound and look good, this story falls into the difficult to watch category. It will take some time to decide what I actually think of it.

Should you see it? I have no idea. I will get back to you. You probably ought to think a little about war zones but you may not wish to go as far as Sam does.

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