This was one of the movies that I missed out on at TIFF. Machine Gun Preacher is the (liberally interpreted) story of Sam Childers. At the beginning of the movie Childers is an ex-con, drug addict, biker whose wife has found religion while he was in the slammer. She drags him to church, where a transformation takes place. After participating in a mission to Africa he becomes obsessed with helping build an orphanage in the middle of a war zone. Having to balance his title as preacher with his more violent, gun weilding self, he fights against the brutal LRA who want to kidnap children to turn them into soldiers or sex slaves.
The dark side of the film, which is Childers’ inner battle, is what makes the film a dramatic success. The animal within him, though tamed by his new religious awakening, is often harnessed in order for him to fight for the orphans, but at times it threatens to overwhelm him again. This isn’t a cliche or stereotypical film as some reviewers have suggested.
I found it a moving, well made and well acted film. I would give it an A-
This movie is very interesting when viewed from an Integral perspective. It shows, I think, a clear justification for the Red paradigm. Whatever else can be said about traditional religion, in the context of the story of this movie, it shows the need for it and the good that it can do. We may see it as superficial, or may even blame it for some of the problems in Africa, but it is clear that for a portion of our population, the Red, pre-modernist, mythic, traditional religion speaks to them in a way that can accomplish, not only good things, but a necessary bridge to further evolution. This is well demonstrated in this film. It has found lots of critics amoung various Christians, and certainly from outraged Greens, who shun the Red ways and think everything can be achieved by patient negotiation. At the end of the movie, probably in response to this, the real Childers is seen along side the credits asking, “If someone stole you child and I told you I could get him or her back, would you care how I did it?”
Also demonstrated is that the anger and indignation of Red has a place as well. Sometimes Red problems such as tribal and territorial violence, need Red responses. The film brings up the controversial question of whether it is ethical to meet violence with violence. Similar to the Danish film In A Better World, the ideas of revenge and violence are examined in the light of clashing world views. Both films do an excellent job of promoting questions about how we realistically deal with important issues that cross over evolutionary stages.