Metascore
43

Mixed or average reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 32
  2. Negative: 7 out of 32
  1. Reviewed by: Pete Hammond
    Sep 17, 2011
    80
    The exploitation title may not do it any favors, but this biopic based on the incredible life journey of Sam Childers is gripping, inspirational and well told.
  2. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Sep 21, 2011
    75
    Machine Gun Preacher is stirring when it presents Childers as a hero, but it does its most impressive work when it addresses him as a flawed, struggling, but still determined man.
  3. Reviewed by: Kirk Honeycutt
    Sep 17, 2011
    70
    One can't escape the nagging feeling that the film doesn't dig deeply enough into its real-life hero. The film doesn't explore all those "whys" and "whats."
  4. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Oct 7, 2011
    63
    If you'd pay to see a film called "Hotel Rwanda: Maniac Manager," you might be receptive to this mixed-message movie, but skeptics should keep one eye on the exit.
  5. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Sep 30, 2011
    63
    The action sequences are energetic and suspenseful but they don't always mesh well with the dramatic material.
  6. Reviewed by: David Hughes
    Oct 31, 2011
    60
    It's gratifying to see Butler giving a proper acting role the old college try. Despite his best efforts, Forster's film, while pulling no punches, still somehow manages to miss the mark.
  7. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Sep 29, 2011
    60
    Director Marc Forster moves from one thing to the next so quickly the movie plays like a two-hour-plus trailer. Something feels like it's missing here, even at that length.
  8. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Sep 22, 2011
    60
    If anything, watching the film is like attending an old-style Southern tent revival - you want to believe in the fight against all that fire and brimstone. Heck, you want to join the righteous brigade. But when the lights go up and the fever dies down, it feels more like you've witnessed a show than a real showdown with the devil.
  9. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Oct 12, 2011
    50
    The movie never convinces us that Forster is convinced himself. The director lines up this bad good man in his sights, but he never quite has the nerve quite to pull the trigger.
  10. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Sep 29, 2011
    50
    At the end of these "based on a true story" flicks, it's customary to flash photos of the real people over the end credits. There, Sam Childers looks older and less handsome and awfully imposing, a scary sort of cat with raw but authentic tales to tell. I'd like to hear them.
  11. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Sep 29, 2011
    50
    Is he a hero or a lunatic? He's possibly neither, or possibly a little of both, but this is the problem with making a movie about a real person.
  12. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Sep 29, 2011
    50
    Machine Gun Preacher is crude and ham-handed from its ridiculous title on down, but it still gets to some interesting places.
  13. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Sep 29, 2011
    50
    By the end of Machine Gun Preacher, its title character has become a cartoon.
  14. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Sep 29, 2011
    50
    He's a fascinating character (even in the person of Gerard Butler), but his conversion from drug-crazed bruiser to psalm-singing family man is so swift and unconvincing that the movie is hobbled from the start. It becomes more engrossing once Childers finds his mission in Africa.
  15. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Sep 28, 2011
    50
    He seems fueled more by anger and ego than spirituality and essentially abandons his family to play with his guns. It's intriguing, however, how well Butler enlists our sympathy for the character.
  16. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Sep 23, 2011
    50
    Director Marc Forster and screenwriter Jason Keller take the easy way out by turning Childers into a Bible-thumping Rambo. Just because the Childers of this movie is not, to put it mildly, introspective, is no reason why the filmmakers had to be equally dense.
  17. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Sep 22, 2011
    50
    In movie terms, Mr. Childers's story is too true to be good. Machine Gun Preacher, directed by Marc Forster and starring Gerard Butler, illustrates some of the ways that a terrific story can turn into a bad film despite the best intentions of everyone involved.
  18. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Sep 22, 2011
    50
    The action scenes in Machine Gun Preacher work fine on their own, but they cheapen a work that attempts to command great importance.
  19. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Sep 22, 2011
    50
    Gerard Butler, who's honed his screen persona as a brutish, charismatic jerk, isn't a bad fit for the role of Sam, even if he's more believable spraying bullets and stabbing hitchhikers than he is delivering a sermon.
  20. Reviewed by: Ed Gonzalez
    Sep 21, 2011
    50
    Marc Forster regards the real-life Childers's evolution from heroin-addicted, wife-beating (implied), gun-toting oblivion to born-again do-gooderism with motorized aloofness.
  21. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    Sep 20, 2011
    50
    Machine Gun Preacher is the umpteenth onscreen iteration of a white savior aiding the most desperate in Africa.
  22. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Oct 5, 2011
    40
    With its combustible mix of high-octane action and Christian faith, and an overall vibe that falls somewhere between bloodthirsty nihilism and an unshakable belief in the twinned powers of religious redemption and obsession, Machine Gun Preacher is certainly the strangest examination of grace under AK-47 fire to merit a mainstream release in ages.
  23. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Sep 23, 2011
    40
    The result is far too high-and-mighty to truly be moving.
  24. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Sep 20, 2011
    40
    Childers's varied, charitable life story warrants a movie, but whether that means it's okay to simply mash up sappy Christian piety and action-movie chaos is highly debatable.
  25. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Sep 17, 2011
    40
    While the result is yet another story of African suffering told from a white do-gooder's perspective, this particular do-gooder is intrinsically fascinating enough to warrant attention, albeit more nuanced attention than he receives here.
  26. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Sep 29, 2011
    38
    The events of the movie may be a little bit true, or a lot, but hardly any of it plays that way.
  27. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Sep 23, 2011
    38
    Machine Gun Preacher has a lot more wrong with it than a bullet-riddled premise. It is yet another iteration of the big, strong white man who comes to save legions of poor anonymous black Africans.
  28. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Sep 23, 2011
    38
    In Machine Gun Preacher, Gerard Butler says, "I've done a lot of things I'm not proud of that hurt a lot of people." But enough about "The Bounty Hunter," "The Ugly Truth" and "P.S. I Love You."
  29. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Sep 22, 2011
    30
    The failure lies not with the film's director, Marc Forster, nor with its impressive star, Gerard Butler, but with Jason Keller's dreadfully earnest script, which charts the hero's spiritual journey, and his Rambo-esque exploits, without offering a scintilla of mature perspective on his state of mind.
  30. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Oct 5, 2011
    25
    Machine Gun Preacher comes alive only when Sam is pulling a trigger, which is most of the second hour. You can find the same thrill from watching a grindhouse descendant like "The Expendables" on cable TV.
  31. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Sep 29, 2011
    25
    It gets the bullet points of Sam Childers's life, but misses the target.
  32. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Sep 21, 2011
    25
    The title, Machine Gun Preacher, makes it sound like a piece of grindhouse kitsch - and by the time it's over, you'll be thinking, ''If only!''
User Score
7.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 35 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 2 out of 11
  1. Oct 8, 2011
    10
    I am not sure why this movie is rated so low. Absolutely incredible. very moving and varying degrees of emotion. I would call this a must see! Dont be fooled by the low ratings Full Review »
  2. Aug 3, 2012
    3
    I found this movie very "preachy" and honestly boring. It picks up in the second half, but the first half is so dreadful, why bother? I thought Gerard Butler did a fine job with what he was given, but what he was given was a shallow cartoonish character, who is not only rather uninteresting but unlikable to boot. If you are interested in Africa or the atrocities that have and continue to go on over there, due yourself a favor and find a documentary or other film to satiate your appetite! Full Review »
  3. Oct 13, 2011
    8
    In his best performance yet, Gerard Butler plays a troubled, complex guy who leaves his life of crime for God and becomes a real life hero in Sudan. Machine Gun Preacher is violent and, at times, hard to watch, but the story is inspirational and puts the spotlight on an ordinary man doing extraordinary things. But he is far from subtle and chooses to use a gun to get them done. The film can certainly be upsetting, especially when you see how kids in Sudan are treated and what happens if they disobey. But no matter how gruesome some parts may be, Machine Gun Preacher only shows the audience the brutal truth and the cause that Sam Childers is fighting for.

    Based on a true story and directed by Marc Forster (Monsterâ
    Full Review »