Let me start by saying that I’m not sure how much I can actually say about this movie. Mostly ‘cos I’m kinda gob-smacked at how much I enjoyed it. Plus, it’s not like I ever think these posts thru’ too much, before I sit my ass down and let my thoughts gush out. (They just kinda spill out and I do a cursory check for spelling mistakes before I hit ‘Publish‘ ;o)
If you look at the poster (left obviously) or you’ve seen a trailer for Machine Gun Preacher, then you’ll know that it’s not exactly what you’d call: “pop-corn-tastic”. Not a single car chase; no aliens phoning home; no cute robots or even an irresistibly foxy love interest to tempt the visual cortex. In fact, not your typical Saturday evening’s entertainment fodder at all. (In fact, given the subject matter, popcorn was the furthest thing from my mind).
No…feel-good factor… per sé; except if you count the awe that one man’s (true) story can inspire in another human being. The man in this case is: Sam Childers (born in 1962) a former motorcycle gang member who now dedicates his life and resources to rescue children in the war zone of South Sudan. (The inspired human being in this case is: yours truly…also born in 1962. Which kinda makes me feel somewhat of an underachiever and total slacker by comparison).
The movie opens with Sam’s release from jail and his prompt but predictable return to his wicked ways: of drugs, crime and neglecting/abusing his family. This could, of course, be any one of a hundred Hollywood scripts at the start. So it’s a bit of a slow, but necessary, introduction. It’s obviously a stark contrast to where this man’s story surprisingly heads.
(Well OK, not that surprising if you’ve read the title or seen the trailer. But you get my drift). Seeing how this guy lives his life at the beginning of the movie, there’s no way you could’ve predicted the choices he’d make. There wasn’t an ounce of compassion in his entire body. (Or a gram if you prefer the metric system ;o)
I found the transition and the events that Chiders experienced very moving. I’m also not ashamed to admit that a tear or three escaped my duct (or ducts…who was counting?) during the course of this movie. Plus, at the end of it I felt kinda guilty for sitting on a comfy sofa supping beer, whilst other 40 year olds (math never was my strong point) were out there, now, making a real difference.
I won’t say too much more about the movie, for fear of spoiling your viewing of it. Save perhaps to point out my favorite aspects…
Where Sam saves the cute blond doctor. Walks over to the rebel laying at her feet, puts a bullet in him and simply walks on by. (No compassion there, that’s for sure). No helping hand offered to soothe or comfort the doctor. Just job done, move on. So wrapped up in fighting for the right side that he’s unaware of the effect he’s having on those around him.
I also enjoyed (curious choice of phrasing, I know) the effect his decisions and unwavering drive have on his life State-side. (Family, friends, business, church and personal finances). All pretty powerful stuff. I’m not usually a Gerard Butler fan truth be told. But I guess the emotional storyline, barren setting, plus obviously the direction and cinematography just carry you along.
I’d give this one a 4 out of 5 and highly recommend you take it for a spin. (Bold of me to assume DVD rather than streaming these days). If Machine Gun Preacher tugs at your heart strings too, be sure to follow up, by finding a suitable charity on-line and making some kind of monetary donation. There’s thousands out there worse off than yourself and this movie helps remind you how pitiful your worries are compared to some.
Here endeth the lecture…