DVD Review - Machine Gun Preacher

Earlier this year, there was a story in the news about a viral video on YouTube called "Kony 2012." The video or short documentary was designed to raise awareness about Joseph Kony. That video could be a good preamble to this narrative. If you haven't seen "Kony 2012," then the ending of this movie is a good place to start when talking about it. The end credits in fact reveal that Joseph Kony is the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a terrorist group that brutalized people in northern Uganda and southern Sudan. Amnesty International estimates that Kony and the LRA murdered over 400,000 people and abducted 40,000 children. Those children were tortured, raped, sold into sex slavery and forced to kill others. Sam Childers is an ex-con from Pennsylvania who built a church in Africa and fought against the LRA and helped to rescue many of those children.

Written by Jason Keller and directed by Marc Forster (Monster's Ball and Quantum of Solace), this movie tells Childers' journey from rural PA into the war zone of Uganda. Gerard Butler (300 and RocknRolla) plays Childers who I'm not sure I buy as an actor here. Childers starts out as a very bad man and he's supposed to make this turn toward God and the material is there. I just am not convinced that Butler is totally convincing.

Once Childers is in Africa and he sees the horrors, one can't help but also be swept up by it. Childers has to juggle two worlds, one in America and one in Africa, and it becomes how he's pulled from one into the other, as he realizes that that other is more important. The filmmakers here underscore it, but the movie gets bogged down with Childers' financial trouble that they all but ignore the obvious theme that one would naturally deduce from the title.

Childers becomes a Pennsylvania preacher who reinforces the word of God and the Bible. Childers also becomes a freedom fighter in Uganda who yields fire-arms like machine guns and rifles often to kill LRA members. He can preach the Ten Commandments, for example, one day, commandments that include not killing and then go out the next day and get into these crazy gun fights where he kills people. This is not a new idea of a man of faith having to fight a war. It's just odd that it's never a conflict for Childers. It's only briefly addressed as an issue.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated R for violent content, language, some drug use, and a scene of sexuality.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 3 mins.


  1. I’m interested to see Gerard Butler in this role because I thought he did a great job in both 300 and RocknRolla. Then again, those were both serious and slightly unemotional roles, which I can see as being far different from pretending to be a bad man gone Godly. Even though one of my co-workers at Dish showed me the Kony 2012 YouTube video a couple of months back, I actually didn’t know that this movie existed until now. I’m looking forward to adding Machine Gun Preacher to my Blockbuster @Home queue. Even if I don’t end up liking the film, it won’t be that much of a waste since I only pay a flat amount per month for my Blockbuster @Home membership. I appreciate the review!


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