Machine Gun Preacher (15)

Starring: Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan

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The Independent Culture

In which Gerard Butler beefs up his status as one of cinema's most charmless leading men.

He plays Sam Childers, a real-life drug addict and jailbird who forswore the hell-raising ways of old and became a respected preacher in his Pennsylvania town. News from Africa leads him to up sticks and establish a church amid a war-ravaged village in Uganda, where his combative brand of Christianity soon proves handy in helping the Sudan People's Liberation Army fight back against the local militia. Marc Forster's film is based on Childers's own memoir, though how reliable that is remains moot: the SPLA claim to have no knowledge of this alleged hero. Whatever the truth, the film is a sorry mess of platitudes, utterly unable to reconcile the man of God with the gun-toting Rambo-in-Africa. Butler can do the standard machismo, but hasn't the chops to suggest the personal complexity that lay behind Childers's volte-face.

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