- Garrett Batty
- Run Time
- 1 hour and 53 minutes
VP Content Ratings
- Sex & Nudity
- Star Rating
Declare in Judah, and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say:
Blow the trumpet through the land;
shout aloud[d] and say,
“Gather together, and let us go
into the fortified cities!”
Raise a standard toward Zion;
flee for safety; do not delay,
for I am bringing evil from the north
and a great destruction…
For I heard a cry as of a woman in labor,
anguish as of one bringing forth her first child,
the cry of daughter Zion gasping for breath,
stretching out her hands,
“Woe is me! I am fainting before killers!”
We know that all things work together[r] for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
Director Garrett Batty’s is a faith film but not one that preaches at you. His script, which he wrote with co-writer Melissa Leilani Larson, tells the true story of a small group of Liberian Morman missionaries caught up in one of the civil wars that ravished that nation. It is a road trip story, with the group desperately driving toward the Sierra Leone city while being pursued by a rebel, embittered by the slaughter of his family, bent on killing them in revenge.
The early scenes are strong, with one especially showing the brutality of the rebel militia leader Ansa (Bill Myers) lining up several villagers against a wall and demanding to know if they are members of the Krahns tribe. If they admit to this, or he suspects that they are, he shoots them. One of the elders, John Gaye (Michael), who engage Philip Abubakar (Henry Adofo) as their driver is a Krahns, so Ansa, like an African version of Inspector Javert, is hard on their heels. It is 370 miles to Freetown, in a car with mechanical problems and just 5 gallons of gas, plus many checkpoints along the road where any number of rebels would gladly gun them down if their tribal membership were discovered.
The killings themselves take place out of camera range, so squeamish viewers need not worry. But the stakes of their journey are high. Even so there are moments of comedy, as when at one check point, the men freeze for a moment in terror because they do not have their passports. Then one of them starts to proselytize, telling the armed interrogator about Jesus, so that the rebels forget their demand of passport, eventually allowing the men to drive on.
Although we might wish that the various characters were fleshed out as much as Abubakar’s—he struggles mightily with his faith in God who seemingly either allows the killing to go on or is indifferent to it—but this does not spoil what is a thriller based on true stories of flight from prejudice and hatred. There are also the miracles that occur, such as how 5 gallons of gas could get their old car so far, something that especially impresses the doubt riddlen Abubakar. I was pleased to come across it on YouTube and now to share it with you. The situation of Liberia in the 90s is well described by the prophet Jeremiah, even though centuries separate the African nation from ancient Israel—though I do not mean to suggest that the modern nation was being subjected to God’s judgement. Some believers might be reluctant to use a Mormon-produced film, regarding it as propaganda, but I have no qualms in this regard. The film tells a riveting story, using an all-African cast—one that is an inspiring tribute to the human spirit and faith.
This review is in the Sept. issue of VP along with a set of questions for reflection and/or discussion. If you have found reviews on this site helpful, please consider purchasing a subscription or individual issue in The Store.