25 may. 2012

My Review: Machine Gun Preacher (8/10)

¨Why don't you fight the evil in this place your way, and let me fight it mine.¨

Marc Foster has directed some interesting movies in the past such as Kite Runner, Quantum of Solace, and Monster`s Ball, but in my opinion his best film is Finding Neverland; a movie I absolutely fell in love with; so each time Foster makes a new film I am always looking forward  to what he is going to do next. His latest film, Machine Gun Preacher, was a very emotional and entertaining film. It combined a lot of action with an emotional drama that worked really well thanks to the lead performance from Gerard Butler. I enjoy these types of inspirational movies where we have a lead character with several flaws who tries to change his life around and redeem himself from his past. I`ve witnessed several of these cases in real life where people have been able through their faith to do great and honorable things despite however dark their past might have been. I believe the world can be a better place if we can learn to let go of our past and live a life of love and service for those in need. Foster makes a very interesting film here and delivers this message in an unorthodox way. The main character isn’t your ordinary converted Christian. This guy has a Bible in one hand, and a machine gun in the other. He is willing to protect those in need by risking his own life. At one point he becomes so immersed in this calling that he puts aside even his own family. Machine Gun Preacher is based on the real life of Sam Childers, a former gangster who becomes a Christian and who`s life changes when he travels to Africa on a Mission trip. I found it to be a really emotional story, but at the same time very entertaining as well. Childers shares even the darkest side of him in this story.

The story begins with Sam Childers (Gerard Butler) being released from prison after having spent there several months for dealing drugs. He is a redneck who loves to hang out with his biker friends in bars around Pennsylvania. He has a wife named Lynn (Michelle Monaghan) and a daughter named Paige. Lynn worked as a dancer at a strip club, but Sam discovers she hasn`t been doing that anymore since he was in prison. Lynn doesn’t smoke or drink either, she claims to have found God and has decided to turn her life around. Sam is not happy about this one bit and continues to live his normal life spending time doing drugs in bars with his best friend Donnie (Michael Shannon). One night his life changes when they pick up a homeless man who tries to steal from them and Sam ends up stabbing him several times. He realizes he has hit rock bottom and agrees to go to church one Sunday with Lynn. He ends up finding God and being baptized. Sam`s life turns around completely as he abandons his life as a drug dealer and begins to make a living as a construction worker. A few months later his hometown is hit by a devastating tornado which works out really well for Sam because he has much more work to do now and ends up managing his own construction business. Sam hears about a mission group that is going to Africa and decides to go. His life changes when he arrives in Sudan and experiences the horrors of the civil war as young kids are being taken from their villages by the rebel army. He befriends one of the army officials named Deng (Souleymane Sy Savane) who tells him what is going on in the country. Sam decides to help out by building an orphanage for the kids and rescuing those who have been taken by the rebels, but he will realize just how big the fight really is as it takes up most of his time and resources.

I already mentioned that Gerard Butler is good and believable in the lead role, but he also had a strong supporting cast to rely on. Michelle Monaghan was surprisingly good in last year`s science fiction thriller Source Code, and here she delivers a strong dramatic role. She is very supportive of her husband and always has a word for him when he`s discouraged. Michael Shannon received a lot of praise for his role in Take Shelter, and in this film he`s good although he doesn’t have much screen time. He`s a great actor, and in the little scenes he was in he was good. I really want to speak about Souleymane Sy Savane, an actor I loved in the small film Goodbye Solo where he played a taxi cab driver who befriends an old man. Savane is really good and it was a real pleasure to see him in this film. I really felt emotional during some scenes which were difficult to watch or really opened my eyes as to the necessity that some of these people have. I might not agree with the way Childers does things, but I was touched by the passion he had for those kids. This is a very powerful and emotional film and I think Foster doesn’t disappoint with the way he directed this movie.

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