Machine Gun Preacher from Redbox yesterday and it was about what I expected, equal parts inspiring story of redemption and an "ends justifies the means" American style adventure story.
The main charcter,Sam Childers is played by Gerard Butler (King Leonidas of 300), a man who grew up violent and abusing drugs before being converted to Christianity. I had a hard time with Butler as Childers because he is so commonly known for his role in 300. Every time he spoke I imagined him shouting: A youth hostel? THIS! IS! AN ORPHANAGE!
The movie has many poignant moments. At one point, when he is at rock bottom and getting ready to go to church with his family he is shown sitting on his bed because he doesn't have decent shoes to wear. I wonder how many people do the same thing on Sunday morning? The scenes with the frightened children, victims of Jospeh Kony and his war in Sudan are heart-wrenching because they are a pretty accurate representation of the humanitarian crisis in Sudan. You certainly get a sense of how being thrust into a desperate situation can cause some people to go overboard.
Having said that the flaws in this movie are serious. It is not a family friendly movie. The language is pretty raw and the movie is quite violent. There are a couple of sexually explicit scenes as well. The message overall is that it is OK to overcome evil with evil, that the ends (helping orphans) justify the mean (violence and bloodshed) and that is a message that is incompatible with the Gospel. I understand the desire to help orphans but we cannot let our zeal to do good be combined with the methods of the world. We cannot overcome the world by playing by the world's rules.
What could have been an interesting movie and a powerful story is marred by unnecessary explicit material and a deeply flawed message.