When a documentary is made about a polarizing figure, the film itself may receive praise simply for existing rather than earning acclaim as a well thought-out film. Zac Simpson’s documentary about Sam Childers, otherwise known as the Machine Gun Preacher, has capitalized on Childers notoriety. Already in the spotlight through a successful biography, news stories, and even a feature film starring Gerard Butler, his transformation from a drug dealer and user, as well as a member of a biker gang, to a born-again Christian that patrols South Sudan with a gun in his hand, has been well documented years before this film.
Unfortunately, the documentary fails to bring anything new. At the beginning of the film we get a glimpse of a complex Childers and the viewer is teased with what this film could be with direction toward deep emotional characterization of the Machine Gun Preacher. Instead, shortly after the opening, the filmmakers abandon the gritty and raw emotional insight of a haunted man to rehashing information that has already been tossed around in both video and print. That is not to say it isn’t interesting; the existence of Sam Childers and his crusade prevents a total flop. However, the final product is so far removed from what this film could have been that it is disappointing. My time would have been better spent watching the first ten minutes of the film and then reading an article of him online for about ten minutes.
In 2013 Childers was chosen for the Mother Teresa Award. Alongside recipients, Malala Yousatzai and the Dali Lama, the choice is guaranteed to spark debate. Malala and the Dalai Lama have become symbols of peace, carry a peaceful nature about them, and employ similar methods to Mother Teresa. Childers, on the other hand, is a "freedom fighter" who advocates for peace with a gun and force, making him an interesting choice for a humanitarian award. What do you think?