MFR Rating: ★
With a title like Machine Gun Preacher, the least you’d expect is some b-movie, exploitation trash. Sadly, instead we get something earnest and very American, apparently based on a true story but pumped with cliché, devoid of sincerity.
Machine Gun Preacher is about as subtle as a brick. Gerard Butler plays Sam Childers, a drug dealing ex-convict who is introduced as a rather deplorable fellow, lambasting his partner, Lynn (Michelle Monaghan) for deciding to give up a profession as a stripper for a life more holy and dedicated to God. With a flick of a switch, Sam goes from being this horrible lowlife to someone who all of a sudden also finds God, becomes a preacher and saves children in Sudan.
It’s the utter implausibility of Sam’s rapid role reversal from someone immoral to someone who wants to save African kids at any cost that never rings true and never follows logically from the weak script and the wealth of mediocre acting. Quite a bit of terrible acting, too.
Gerard Butler is just such a dull screen presence and lacks the range to give this film any sense of poignancy. It’s a very dull film, that seems to drag on under some illusion of importance but ultimately its completely redundant. There’s no effort to make the audience feel close to the children that are apparently changing Sam’s view of life. It all lacks any emotional punch. Hollywoodized and tedious, Machine Gun Preacher catastrophically fails to live up to its title.
Machine Gun Preacher is out on 4th November in the UK. Running time: 129 mins. Certificate 15 (UK).
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Review by David Rank