Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Movie Review: Freetown
Genre: Historical Drama
Rating: PG-13 (Thematic situations involving violence)
Official Synopsis: Caught in the middle of a brutal civil war, six Liberian missionaries in Monrovia flee the widespread violence in their native country. Their destination: Freetown, Sierra Leone. With the help of local church member Phillip Abubakar (Henry Adofo), the missionaries make the difficult journey, only to have their troubles compounded by a rebel fighter bent on killing one of their own. Based on incredible true events, FREETOWN is a thrilling and inspiring story of hope and survival.
I will give you some overall information to help you decide if you should see it before I get into spoilers.
Normally my movie tastes shy away from the intense/scary side of things. So when I was asked to review Freetown I did not know how I would like it. It turns out that I loved it despite being on the edge of my seat tense for most of the film. I felt that the movie did an excellent job portraying how difficult it would have been to be in the position of these missionaries. It is important to remember though that I am coming to this movie having been a missionary myself, although I had no situations like those described in this film, I still have a special affinity for missionaries everywhere. Also on my mission I knew several Liberian refugees in Philadelphia who had come through the revolution, so I feel a personal connection to the situation in the film as well.
Who Is It For?
This film is not made to be exclusive to a Mormon audience, anyone of any religious background could come to this film and have a good experience. Just like I can watch Chariots of Fire and thoroughly enjoy it.
The movie is rated PG-13 because it does get very tense through most of the movie. There is very little actual violence on screen but it is still very scary and you can hear and know what is happening off screen. For this reason I would not suggest that young children watch this movie.
It can also be hard to understand at times, particularly if you do not have experience with Liberian accents. So if you have trouble hearing it may be nice to watch with subtitles.
I was extremely impressed with the level of cinematography in the film. Perhaps because I don't expect a high level from Mormon-made films, but I thought they did a really excellent job on this one. It is hard to make a really intense movie without good cinematography because what is shown and not shown is used to convey so much of the emotion.
It also appeared they had a new drone they liked to use because arial shots abounded throughout the film.
The sound track supported the movie, but was not something that I noticed in particular except when it was African chanting which would come on much louder than the dialogue. I can't speak for what this would be like in the theater, but at home it resulted in a lot of volume adjusting.
I give Freetown 4 out of 5 Stars. I would recommend that you go see it if you like intense movies about true stories. Particularly if you are a Mormon I think you will enjoy this movie. If you are anyone who likes to support good films in opposition to most of the garbage Hollywood spits out these days, then I would go see this film.
The film actually takes place over the course of just about 3 or 4 days, with the majority of it being just on the 2 days the missionaries and Phillip spend trying to escape Liberia.
The Elders are attempting to actively continue proselyting it Liberia despite the outbreak of civil war and the Rebel bands that run rampant through the jungle. But when things get so bad that they feel they can no longer preach, whether safely or not, the decide the will go to Sierra Leone and preach there.
This is a story of faith. The missionaries display complete faith in the idea that God will get them out of the country safely to where they can better serve Him. They are contrasted with Phillip, the Liberian member who is driving them. Phillip has trouble having as complete faith as the missionaries do, but even in his doubts he continues to show by his actions that he does have faith. He and six missionaries cram into a little red car, traversing the jungle and passing through rebel checkpoints on one miracle after another.
Disclosure: The makers of Freetown contacted me and gave me access to an early press screener so that I could write this review, but as you know I only ever give honest review.