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Machine Gun Preacher Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Born-again biker puts bullets in bad guys. Read full review


Grae Drake Profile

Hotel Rwanda it ain't Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 25

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    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!''

    Read Full Review

  • 30

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    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.

    Read Full Review

  • 38

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    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.

    Read Full Review

  • 63

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    The action sequences are energetic and suspenseful but they don't always mesh well with the dramatic material.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    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."

    Read Full Review

  • See all Machine Gun Preacher reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 15+

Gruesome redemption tale made tedious by oversimplification.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this fact-based drama set mostly in war-torn Sudan includes several combat sequences and some especially gruesome images featuring torture victims. The main character (played by Gerard Butler) transforms from a biker-gang thug into a religious man over the course of the movie. He also swears constantly ("f--k," "c--ksucker," etc.), drinks heavily, and, in the beginning, shoots heroin. It's an inspiring story, though not a pretty one.

  • Families can talk about Sam's story. What do you think about his transformation over the course of the story? Does the movie make more of an impact because it's based on a real person's life?
  • What is the movie's message about violence? How does Sam's decision to join in the warfare affect this message? What, if anything, did you learn about the political situation of Sudan in the real world?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: The movie promotes the idea that people can change for the better and that there's a greater purpose in life. It also says that helping others can be a path toward paying for the mistakes of the past. On the other hand, the idea that fighting violence with violence is a good idea also comes across.

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: Sam is transformed from a drug-addicted thug to a devoted family man to a missionary who will do anything to help protect innocent children who've been orphaned by civil war in Sudan. However, many of his choices are questionable, including his decision to become an active participant in combat.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: The film has quite a lot of violence, and some of it is horribly gruesome. There are plenty of standard-issue combat sequences that include firefights, explosions, and bloody deaths. Additional scenes show wartime atrocities being committed and their terrible aftermath. This includes piles of mangled, smoldering corpses, a woman whose lips have been cut off, a child killed by a land mine, and a young boy who's forced to club his own mother to death. One character also menaces his wife; he doesn't hit her, but his actions are violent and intimidating.

  • sex false2

    Sex: One scene features a couple having sex in a car, seen from the outside, and another shows them kissing passionately. There's no nudity, though a woman appears in her underwear.

  • language false4

    Language: Lots of swearing. Sam uses "f--k" in about every third sentence. Also uses of "s--t," "c--ksucker," "p---y," "damn," "hell," "ass," and "butt." Sam sometimes swears in front of his young daughter.

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: Sam has an extensive collection of Harley Davidson T-shirts that he wears throughout the film. Several car brands also get mentioned or are shown on screen, including Caprice and Buick. Sam offers a friend a Coke.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false4

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Several scenes in bars with people drinking beer, doing shots, and getting drunk. Some of the characters shoot up heroin on screen.