'Freetown' is a Mormon missionary road trip drama without a lot of drama

A group of Liberian missionaries travel through their war torn country to save one of their own. Courtesy Three Coin Productions.

Starring Henry Adofo, Phillip Adekunle Michael, Michael Attram, Alphonse Menyo; directed by Garrett Batty; 113 minutes; PG-13 for thematic situations involving violence

The early days of Liberia's long civil war provide the backdrop to "Freetown," a modestly budgeted odyssey about Mormon missionaries fleeing the country for neighboring Sierra Leone.

It's 1989, and rebels are hunting anyone from the Krahn tribe, carrying up summary executions of the ruling class tribe members wherever they find them. That's made it impossible for the nascent Mormon community of missionaries to do their work.

Abubakar (Henry Adofo) is charged with getting these young elders out to neighboring Sierra Leone. He has a car, but little gas. And just rounding up six young men out spreading the Latter-day Saints word is a nightmare in a country overrun with armed, trigger-happy teenagers.

Garrett Batty's "inspired by a true story" film is most at home capturing a country descending into chaos - the myopia of seeing a war up close. Locals and missionaries flee to the sanctuary of a church, randomly hunted by disorganized thugs piling out of pickup trucks, enforcing their reign of terror at the barrel of an AK-47.

But the film takes over an hour to get underway and dawdles even after it's hit the road. The impending peril is feebly handled, the biblical allegories (one elder denies his tribe) a trifle heavy-handed. Roger Moore, Tribune News Service