By Susan Wloszczyna, USA TODAY
TORONTO – There is no denying that the main attractions of the pulpy-sounding Machine Gun Preacher are the often harrowing and inspirational true-life adventures of Sam Childers, the wild-man biker, drug addict and ex-con turned self-made minister who found his calling as savior and protector of the victimized children of war-torn Sudan.
But alongside the depictions of atrocities, gruesome deaths and vigilante-style justice in the biographical drama opening Friday is an unusual and tender romance shared by a married couple (and parents of a now-grown daughter) whose devotion to God only increased their passion for one another.
“In some ways, it feels like the eternal story of a woman who thinks that eventually her man is going to change,” says Gerard Butler, 41, who plays this larger-than-life outlaw with all the red-blooded brio he can muster after spending time with the real Childers. “Though I think the essence of Sam has never changed that much. He still has all that pent-up craziness within him, which is what drives him to do great things.”