White Man's Overreach: Gerard Butler Saves Poor African Kids in Machine Gun Preacher

Based on the true story of Sam Childers—an ex-con, druggie, gun nut, and self-described “hillbilly from Pennsylvania” who got right with the Lord and built an orphanage for Sudanese refugees—Machine Gun Preacher is the umpteenth onscreen iteration of a white savior aiding the most desperate in Africa. The kids Childers (Gerard Butler) helps, who have been both forced to commit and witness the most unimaginable atrocities during the country’s civil war, are presented here primarily as scenery—tiny, trembling bodies indistinguishable from one another—or as small sages who offer wise words to the locked-and-loaded pastor when his spirits droop. Marc Forster, who also directed The Kite Runner (2007), another film that packaged children’s wartime suffering, and first-time screenwriter Jason Keller stage Childers’s transformation swiftly: Bellowing at his now-born-again wife (Michelle Monaghan) for quitting her stripping job and shooting up to Lynryd Skynyrd in the opening scenes, he is soaked with baptismal water and laying bricks in East Africa in the next. Butler fulfills the showboating required of him: raging at the disparity between the privileged West and the rest of the world, puffing up when announcing, “Helping you kids is about the only good thing I’ve done in this life.” But he’s a shrinking violet compared with the real Childers, seen in the closing credits gleefully strapping on guns and daring us, because the film never does, to question his mercenary methods.

 
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12 comments
Nia_s25
Nia_s25

I don't think some of you actually read the review. At the end she states,

"he’s a shrinking violet compared with the real Childers, seen in the closing credits gleefully strapping on guns and daring us, because the film never does, to question his mercenary methods. "

This is a movie review people not a review on Sam or his work. And while I have yet to see the movie I have read the book. Yes it was a book before it was a movie.You remember those right, books? I think the work he is doing is wonderful and fully intend to see the movie regardless of the poor reviews, only in support of Sam and the children.

Beadsareme, there are plenty of other books that attempt to raise awareness of such atrocities, not only in Africa but around the world. If those aren't made into movies will you not care then?

Seriously people, dramatic much?

Rigger1002002
Rigger1002002

Before you start cutting Sam Childers down, you should really get to know him! I know him personally and I know he is not only serious about his religion, but he is dedicated to that orphanage in Sudan. I also know that he is setting up a food releif in Somolia for the people starving there. Just because you are a critic doesn't give you the right to cut down a person that you do not know and only know by what others say. If you truely want to give a review of Sam Childers, then do what he does!! Walk a mile in his shoes!

Beadsareme
Beadsareme

Before this movie came out I wonder how many individuals were even remotely aware of what these children and families have been and are going through. If Sam Childers had helped just one child/person in any way, it's more than a vast, vast number of people will ever even think of doing in their lifetime. If he's saved just one life, And he's saved many more than that, then he's done a remarkable thing...much more remarkable than a movie critic that doesn't consider that the story of a lifetime of change and work has to be told in two hours. Gerard Butler offered a remarkable performance, as Childers himself stated. The film already has raised awareness and significant financial support for victims in that area. Today Childers continues to feed over 1500 people per day through his efforts. What have any of you done in that same vein?

Istahilibrahim88
Istahilibrahim88

Finally a critic that comments on all the racial and cultural patronizing drizzle that gets packaged as Oscar bait. The commentators criticizing below me are the classic white audiences that movies like this are created for. And they don't like having their mindset called out. Classic racist denial.

Joel Berry
Joel Berry

Racist? That’s a pretty serious charge to simply assume of someone, isn't it? My wife and I are aspiring medical missionaries to Africa. I am a pilot and she is a nurse. I became compelled to missionary work after my travels abroad with the military. I saw people in living in poverty that no human being should be subjected to. Have you ever had to choose between buying a 2 dollar malaria pill for your dying child and feeding your family for a month? I want to help these people, plain and simple. I don’t see myself as some “white savior,” as you call it. I am just a person trying to help others because it is the right thing to do.

It is frustrating to be judged and insulted by a movie reviewer like this, who I doubt has given her life to this extent to help others. She criticizes entertainment, for God sakes! She doesn’t even create entertainment! Who is she to judge? How twisted does your worldview have to be to look down on those who risk their lives to help others?

Xtrajohn77
Xtrajohn77

Whether or not the movie is "racist" is debatable but the point Istahilibrahim88 is making is correct.

brundelfly
brundelfly

If the movie isn't racist then how is Istahilibrahim88 correct in his assertion that the commentators below are racists in denial?

Labeling those defending a biopic of a humanitarian as closet racists is a silly slur to throw around anyway. Informing a guy who is set to become a medical missionary that it holds truth just beggars belief.

guest
guest

This review is the kind of cynicism and ignorance that could only come from a critic whose contribution to humanity is limited to wearing colored ribbons, going to marches,and blogging. Melissa could never hope to reach the kind of heroism that Sam Childers has shown, so she sits in her ivory tower of political correctness and soothes her own white guilt with condesention and pretentiousness. Classic liberal.

ColinRoberts
ColinRoberts

It's more worrying that you cannot distinguish between the genuine goodness of the real Sam, and Gerry Butler souping up these acts to earn some dollars in a mediocre movie.

brundelfly
brundelfly

The opening paragraph is pretty condescending with regard to the real-life Childers and at no point does the article make mention of his remarkable life or work - it simply states how distasteful she found the film and calls into question Childer's methods.

Guest
Guest

ignorant fool.

Sakara
Sakara

childers wound up in pa, like many an ex-new yorker----but he wasn't born in pa.

 

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