Director: Marc Foster
Cast: Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon
Age Restriction: 16DVL
Opens at cinemas 20th January 2012
Plot: The true story of Sam Childers, a hard-drinking, drug-taking, biker gang miscreant from Minnesota. After hitting rock bottom Childers has a religious conversion that prompts him to turn his life around. He decides to go to Africa where he ends up helping the children affected by the war in Southern Sudan. With the aid of his machine gun he becomes a hero figure who does not follow accepted, relief aid protocols in order to help those in need.
The film is based on Childers’ memoir ‘Another Man’s War’. Sam is one bad ‘son of a gun’, both pre and post-conversion. The start of the film shows him being released from prison only to fall back into his bad living. His wife became converted during his sojourn in the ‘slammer’ and quit her job as a stripper, much to the disgust of Sam, who needs the money for drugs and alcohol. After one fateful night Childers decides to join his wife at the local church where he forsakes his old ways and accepts baptism. He turns his life around and manages to provide for his family with a successful construction business. A visit from an African missionary to Sam’s church, plants an idea in his head which eventually takes him to Uganda and to South Sudan. Here Sam becomes, as one critic put it, ‘a paramilitary humanitarian’. He helps save kidnapped children, builds an orphanage and takes up arms against The Lord’s Resistance Army, while in the States he starts his own church with his wife and family.
It is not typical Hollywood fair and its limited release overseas last year proves it might have been a difficult film to market. It is steeped in Evangelical Christianity – a big no-no for Hollywood – but the mercenary element in Childers’ tale most likely helped to sell the idea to film executives. Throughout the film you wonder if he really has changed or if he has only traded in one bloody and violent vocation for another. The film does not explore his faith in-depth but does show-unintentionally perhaps-that it is immature and short-sighted, despite the good that it brings out in him. Random threads from Sam’s life are sewn together haphazardly so one looses the flow of time and continuity as the film jumps back and forth from Africa to the United States. Don’t let these issues deter you from seeing this film. Childers’ story is unique and compelling even if his character and activities seem out of step with the mainstream.