Inspirational melodramas that are based on true stories are often very formulaic, but Marc Forster's Machine Gun Preacher could be one of those cases where the real-life subject - former gang biker-turned-humanitarian warrior Sam Childers - is just too fascinating for the film to not work on some level.
We have an official trailer for the biopic, which was scripted by Jason Keller (co-writer of Tarsem Singh's Snow White movie) and, in part, based on Childer's biographical novel, "Another Man's War."
Here is the official synopsis for Machine Gun Preacher:
When ex-biker-gang member Sam Childers (Gerard Butler) makes the life-changing decision to go to East Africa to help repair homes destroyed by civil war, he is outraged by the unspeakable horrors faced by the region's vulnerable populace, especially the children. Ignoring the warnings of more experienced aide workers, Sam breaks ground for an orphanage where it's most needed--in the middle of territory controlled by the brutal Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a renegade militia that forces youngsters to become soldiers before they even reach their teens. But for Sam, it is not enough to shelter the LRA's intended victims. Determined to save as many as possible, he leads armed missions deep into enemy territory to retrieve kidnapped children, restoring peace to their lives--and eventually his own.
So yeah - Childers is a former drug-addicited criminal who truly abandons his destructive ways and become a heavily-armed badass who devotes his life to saving orphaned African children. Is it any shock that a movie has been made about his life?
On that note: check out the Machine Gun Preacher trailer (via iTunes Movie Trailers) below:
Forster appears to have gone with the simple point-and-shoot approach in Machine Gun Preacher, more along the lines of his films like Monster's Ball or The Kite Runner than his overly-stylistic exercises (Stay and Stranger Than Fiction). The raw nature of Childer's story invites a more artistic filmmaking approach, like the hand-held "documentary" aesthetic of Paul Greengrass (United 93) or the creative touch that Steven Soderbergh brought to his own inspirational true-story drama, Erin Brockovich. So Forster's approach is kind of discouraging.
Butler is at his best when playing the scruffy, hard-edged type and Sam Childers fits that description to a T. He doesn't have the screen presence or powerhouse performance style of, say, Christian Bale, but Butler should at least look and feel authentic while playing the man. Between this and his role in Ralph Fiennes' Coriolanus, the 300 star's career is definitely headed in the right direction - even if he's not yet proven himself as capable an actor as some of his peers. Machine Gun Preacher should still help, in that regard.
Check out the Machine Gun Preacher poster below:
Based on the footage and dialogue shown in the trailer, Machine Gun Preacher appears to be bound by many a familiar convention - with regards to how Childer's character arc unfolds in the film. However, as mentioned before, the opportunity to learn more about his story is more than reason enough to give this flick a look in theaters. Besides, it's at least more interesting than The Blind Side, if only because its protagonist is a grizzled rogue who wields a bazooka.
Machine Gun Preacher begins a limited theatrical release in New York and LA on September 23rd, 2011.
Source: iTunes Movie Trailers