Tuesday, 25 October 2011

New Release - Machine Gun Preacher

Ever since the fateful day when I met Gerard Butler on a plane back from New York (he's quite a nice chap), I've kept a close eye on his acting career, and although he's made some questionable choices, he never fails to entertain, especially in his typecast as a strong stubborn man who usually has a lot of inner turmoil. His latest film is no different in this respect, with Butler portraying a troubled individual that heads down the path of righteousness.

Gerard Butler is Sam Childers, a born again Christian who is seeking to distance himself from his former life as a drug-addled biker, and he takes it upon himself to visit Sudan where he feels compelled to aid the innocent children caught up in the war. Machine Gun Preacher tackles a difficult subject, namely the persecution of children in Sudan, and as this is based on a true story, Marc Foster was faced with the unenviable task of creating an engaging film that stays true to real life events.

There is no denying that the events depicted in the film are inspirational - Sam Childers has clearly made a positive impact with his work in Sudan - however, the transition to screen does not serve the story justice, with certain scenes that appear to have been included solely to emphasise the 'Machine Gun' aspect of the title. Sam seems to have a knack of turning up to gunfights at the perfect moment, some of which are unintentionally hilarious, and this clearly serves to glorify his actions but in doing so it also diminishes the power of the true story; this is a real person, not John Rambo.

A number of characters feel one-dimensional, with not enough screen time given to their development, which is surprising when you consider a running time of over two hours, and in turn the emotional angle that Foster is aiming for just doesn't work. Michelle Monaghan and Michael Shannon do a reasonably good job of grounding the story with their portrayals of Sam's wife and best friend but the real star of Machine Gun Preacher is the blistering soundtrack, with a number of scenes set in dingy looking bars that are the perfect setting for Chris Cornell's dirty rock n'roll. 

Hopefully this film will increase awareness of the events in Sudan but I am fairly certain it will be forgotten about in a few years time. There are numerous films out there that focus on real life atrocities, the majority of which are far more powerful than Machine Gun Preacher, and it is a shame as Childer's story could have been adapted into a thrilling piece of cinema. Fans of Butler will probably not be disappointed, and whilst this film does have its moments, it is unlikely to invoke an emotional response from the majoirty of the audience.

6/10 -Just pray that Butler doesn't turn up at your local church



If you like this you will enjoy these:

Blood Diamond
The Last King Of Scotland
The Constant Gardener
The Killing Fields