Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

August 15, 2012

‘Machine Gun Preacher’ a blunt advocate against apathy

DVD Review

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Daily Democrat

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — In a society where the problem of Bullies is less seen as just an acceptable part of life than what it might have been before, it is often not doing anything which can be more harmful than taking some form of action. On that note it is also interesting how quickly we as a species forget our so called cry to defend the weak when the effort exceeds our immediate boundaries of comfort.

Now I admit it is a rare individual who might go to the same extremes as the person this movie is based on, but it does pose this interesting question of how much injustice can we tolerate before we do more than just talk about what we believe in. This man’s solution may or may not even be the right answer to that particular problem, yet it’s a rare genuine look at confronting the worst of humanity. “Machine Gun Preacher” will not pull any punches, but if you can look past the rough exterior it does offer audiences a potential film gem.

The story itself follows to some extent the real life journey of a man named Sam Childers (Gerard Butler), who starts off at the lowest of the lows as a drug/alcohol addicted biker bitter from crime and his time in prison. It seems he is destined for an appropriately dire ending until a split second bad decision causes him to reconsider the path he has taken thus far.

It is when he agrees to attend church with his wife, Lynn Childers (Michelle Monaghan), someone who was pretty much in the gutter with him until she found salvation, that a domino of change takes place. This transformation though positive will continue to offer tests for him to overcome, the biggest of which include creating an orphanage in war-torn Sudan with friend Deng (Souléymane Sy Savané) and discovering what the consequences are of crossing each line. It is at times extremely heartwarming and others difficult to digest, sure to at least cause a few to examine their own spiritual side.

It’s hard to say who exactly to recommend this to with graphic language and other content not exactly church friendly, though if you’re not too thin skinned I’d say it offers plenty of good lessons in the message. I’ll at least say kids aren’t quite mature enough to handle some parts of it, but I know I’d gladly show it to my adult friends and plan on picking up a permanent copy eventually.

Some viewers will certainly feel perfectly comfortable tamely going to Sunday services with little     impact to their own life after watching, others perhaps inspired to do something a little more as a result. In any case, I salute the film makers and actors for at least reaching me with a portrayal that is hard to forget. This earns “Machine Gun Preacher” four out of five prayers.

DVD rental courtesy of Family Video of Pauls Valley.