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Movie Reviews
by Todd Pearage

Machine Gun Preacher (6/5/2012)

Rated R for violent content including disturbing images, language, some drug use and a scene of sexuality.

Starring Gerard Butler and Michelle Monaghan

Directed by Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace and The Kite Runner)

Todd's Rating: Theatre Worthy

James 2 tells us “faith without works is dead,” and Machine Gun Preacher is a real, raw and gritty look at some authentic faith.

Machine Gun Preacher is the inspirational true story of Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing criminal who undergoes an astonishing transformation and finds an unexpected calling as the savior of hundreds of kidnapped and orphaned children. Gerard Butler delivers a searing performance as Childers, the impassioned founder of the Angels of East Africa rescue organization in this moving story of violence and redemption.

It wasn’t a huge surprise to me that this movie did not do well in the theaters. I believe the title kept many mainstream movie goers away and the R-rating kept many Christian moviegoers away. But the truth is, they both should grab this one on DVD.

I loved how authentic this movie was. Too many times Christian films clean up or sanitize a person’s pre-conversion life. Instead of showing how depraved or broken they were. We normally get a lot of “hecks” and “darns,” but this movie shows you the kind of man Sam Childers really was…and it’s not pretty. A convicted criminal, biker, drug user and just plain mean…in one scene he tries to force his wife to get her job back at a local strip bar. But then Sam finds God…and everything changes…well almost everything. Sam still struggles with his vocabulary, but he’s working on it.

Listening to a missionary one Sunday in church, Sam decides to join him on a short term mission trip. But when he sees the victims of Kony’s violence, he is determined to save as many as possible. He leads armed missions deep into enemy territory to retrieve kidnapped children and take out the LRA army. He did what so many of us want to do when we see injustice. But he didn’t just write a check or let the moment pass. He took action and over the course of his life, Sam has rescued over a thousand orphans from starvation, disease and enslavement.

Sam is a very cool guy and they picked a very cool actor to play him. At first I thought Gerard Butler was trying too hard to be “bad,” but as the credits rolled and they showed photos and video of Sam, I realized he nailed it.

I understand that this movie will not appeal to everyone, but I loved it, and I think it’s “Theater Worthy.”

This is a hard one because of the language and Sam’s rough lifestyle. But I think older teenagers should see this amazing inspirational story about what one man can do.

Conversation Starter:
  1. Have you ever met someone who talks a good game, but never delivers? How do you feel about that person?

  2. Read James 2 14-19

      What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that —and shudder. 20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

    What does James tell us about our fait and our deeds?

  3. How did Sam put his faith into action?

  4. What example of “dead faith” does James give us in verse 15?

  5. What are some examples, that you can think of, where a person put their faith into action?

  6. What are some things you can do this week to live out your faith?

Todd Pearage Todd Pearage is a movie buff at heart, but he's not your traditional film critic. Todd is a blue collar film geek, from his job years ago at Blockbuster to his heartfelt online movie reviews. But Todd isn't just a film geek. He has worked with middle and high school students since 1991 as a youth pastor and is currently on staff at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Todd and his wife Lynda have three children, Brianna, Caleb and Addyson.

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