A movie poster for a biopic about a drug dealer who converted to Christianity has some critics raising eyebrows for its depiction of actor Gerard Butler toting a machine gun in one hand while shielding a small child with the other.
"I know it’s based on a true story, but, I’m sorry folks, because this poster makes me want to run the other way, fast," wrote the author of indieWIRE's "Shadow and Act" blog.
"By the looks of that tiny swathe of space between the gun and the boy, this is clearly a man who knows what children need," wrote Mallika Rao at The Huffington Post. "Great job, 'Machine Gun Preacher' team! Nothing says 'Hope is the greatest weapon of all' like your tagline."
Others, however, insist the poster, released this week by Relativity Media, might actually attract viewers to the film.
"I understand your point of view," wrote one commenter on The Huffington Post article. "For me the experience was different. The poster inspired me even more to see the movie."
Another commenter sought to correct apparent misconceptions about the nature of the film: "I daresay that most of the children this man has rescued would argue that seeing Sam Childers wielding an assault rifle in their defense does give them hope. It certainly would be a lot more hopeful life living at his orphanage than the short, brutal existence they would be guaranteed at the hands of the LRA."
"Machine Gun Preacher," directed by Marc Forster, portrays the story of Sam Childers, an evangelical preacher who was a drug-dealing biker before being converted to Christ.
After his conversion, Childers traveled to Sudan where he felt moved to bring light into the darkness he witnessed in the lives of the country's children at the hands of militants known as the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA)."
Childers organized armed missions to rescue children kidnapped by the LRA and forced to become soldiers or sex slaves.
"Machine Gun Preacher," written by Jason Keller and starring Michelle Monaghan and Michael Shannon, will be screened at the Toronto Film Festival in September. The film will be on screens in New York City and Los Angeles starting September 23 before a full nationwide release.
Here is the trailer for the movie: