Freetown Parent Review
The cinematography is well done. Filmed in Ghana, the production gives viewers a taste of the color and landscape in the region and brings a cast of fresh young actors to the big screen.
American Sniper took audiences behind Iraqi enemy lines through the scope of a US Navy SEALS soldier. Lone Survivor followed Navy SEALS sent to track down the Taliban. Zero Dark Thirty explored the controversy over the hunt for Osama bin Laden. But Freetown gives viewers a look at Liberia’s first civil war through the eyes of six native Mormon missionaries caught up in the conflict in Monrovia.
Civil unrest broke out in the West African country in 1989 after former government minister Charles Taylor staged an uprising to overthrow Samuel Doe. In the resulting chaos the Gio and Mano tribes fought against the Krahn in a brutal and violent battle that left thousands dead and drove thousands more from their homes.
Among those caught up in the war are a half dozen Liberian missionaries teaching in the area. Two of them are pinned down in their apartment by a group of gun-toting militants, while the others are forced into hiding when rebels take over a town. That’s when local church leader Philip Abubaker (Henry Adofo), who has been asked to watch out for the young men, agrees to drive the missionaries to Freetown, Sierra Leone—a distance of 370 miles on muddy back roads. But just as they are about to leave, armed men looking for Krahn tribe members stop two of the missionaries. As John Gaye (Phillip Adekunle Michael) and Prince Nyanforf (Clement Amegayie) wait in line with the other locals, the men question each person. Those who are Krahn, or who the rebels suspect are Krahn, are pushed out of the line-up and shot. Elder Gaye watches with horror as the old woman beside him is gunned down, knowing he will be next.
The story of the missionaries’ perilous cross-country journey in a small five-seat sedan is based on true events. Along the way they deal with hunger, lack of sleep, cramped conditions and fear as they pass through numerous checkpoints where they are questioned or forced to hand over money.
Although the dialogue is a little difficult to understand at times, the cinematography is well done. Filmed in Ghana, the production gives viewers a taste of the color and landscape in the region. The movie also brings a cast of fresh young actors to the big screen. However, parents should note there are repeated scenes of gunfire and shootings. The killings take place off screen, however they are nonetheless disturbing. Rebels frequently drive through the streets firing their rifles and threatening the missionaries and others. Families are also forced apart and one woman’s husband is shot while he is trying to find food for his loved ones.
Still, the message of this movie is one of faith. These religious volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints leave Monrovia with one tank of gas—yet the gauge never seems to move and the group is able to drive almost the entire trip without refueling. And while the driver worries about the success of the trip, these young men put their trust in a higher power on their journey to Freetown.Directed by Garrett Batty. Starring Nuong Faalong, Robert Conder, Michael Attram. Running time: 113 minutes. Updated May 18, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Freetown here.
Freetown Parents Guide
One rebel is angry because members of the Krahn tribe killed several members of his family. Because of that he is committed to killing every Krahn he can find. How does his quest for revenge affect this man? Why is he willing to kill other innocent members of the tribe? How does “hatred breed more hatred?”
What impact does war have on the people who live in the combat zone? How are utilities, water and food supplies interrupted? How does the message of peace shared by these missionaries affect people?
One of the missionaries says bravery is facing your fears. How do different people face their fears in this movie? When have you had to face fear?
More About the Movie: Learn more about Liberia’s first civil war.
The missionaries depicted here are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (AKA the Mormons).