Michelle Monaghan practices and preaches in ‘Machine Gun Preacher’ - VIDEO
Some 40,000 children have been captured, tortured, raped and turned into soldiers or sex slaves by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) in southern Sudan and northern Uganda since 1986.
That’s such a staggering number – and such a foul crime – that the imagination has trouble taking it in. It’s the kind of statistic that can leave you numb at the sheer scale of the brutality and madness that led to it. What kind of future can a nation have when so many within it treat their own children worse than animals?
In 'Machine Gun Preacher,' the harrowing and inspirational new film that opens Friday with Gerard Butler and Michelle Monaghan in the starring roles, that story is told -- as is the story of one man’s determination to resist it.
The film tells the story of Sam Childers (Butler) the real life ex-biker turned preacher whose life is transformed by a trip to East Africa. Helping to repair homes destroyed by civil war, Childers is outraged to learn of the horrors faced by the region’s population and especially by their children. He decides to help them on the spot.
Since 'Machine Gun Preacher' is based very firmly on Childers’s true story, neither the script nor the actors attempt to gloss over what a maladjusted jerk Childers had been before (with the help of his wife) he turned his life around. But his dark past gives him an insight into others.
Once he was a biker and a heroin addict on the road to nowhere, and when we first meet Childers he’s coming out of prison and very likely on the fast track back to it.
But in the interval his wife Lynn (Monaghan), a former stripper, has found God and begins a process of finding a new story for herself and a new future for her family.
That spark slowly works its change on Childers too, and he eventually he finds himself working on a short mission to East Africa (he’s a home builder by trade) that completely changes his life.
Ignoring the warnings of the locals, Sam builds an orphanage where it’s most needed, directly in the middle of the territory controlled by the vicious LRA. From there Childers leads missions deep into enemy territory to free kidnapped children from their clutches, bringing peace to their lives and eventually to his own.
It’s his inability to let go, his refusal to go back to his own life and let all he’s witnessed become a story he tells his friends that makes him such a remarkable man. And his wife Lynn is cut from the same mettle.
“What was most incredible about Lynn was what a profoundly grounded person she is,” Monaghan tells the Irish Voice by phone from Los Angeles.
“It was a very hard role to play in that it led me to ignore my own instincts. The real life Lynn doesn’t allow herself to get angry and upset when I wanted to unleash, but I had to portray someone who was real and that I had to honor her by being true to that.”
Eighty percent of the events in the film are real, Monaghan confesses.
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