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Sound of Freedom – Movie Review
July 4, 2023

Synopsis: The incredible true story of a former government agent turned vigilante who embarks on a dangerous mission to rescue hundreds of children from sex traffickers.
Director: Alejandro Monteverde
Stars: Jim Caviezel, Bill Camp, Jose Zuniga

Sound of Freedom is based on the life of Tim Ballard and, more importantly, the world of child human sex trafficking. This is a very heavy movie that is difficult to review mainly because it’s become somewhat of a political issue, but my role is to review the film, which will be discussed here.

The film begins with a young girl singing in her home. Rocio (Cristal Aparicio) is 11 and has caught the attention of Katy, an attractive ‘talent’ agent who thinks Rocio has what it takes. She introduces herself to Rocio’s father, Roberto (Jose Zuniga), and tells him about this ‘great opportunity.’ When she discovers that Rocio has a seven-year-old brother, she also encourages him to participate.

A short time later, Roberto brings his kids to an audition at an apartment where other kids are also waiting to show what they’ve got. Katy asks Roberto to come back to get his kids later that day. He trusts Katy; after all, she looks the part. But when he returns, the apartment is empty, and his children are gone.

The movie opens with scenes of children being taken all over the world, and right away, it’s like a punch in the gut. It turns out that what has happened to Roberto and his family is not the exception; it is more common than we know.

The film’s main character, Tim Ballard (an actual person played by Jim Caviezel), is currently working with Homeland Security as a Special Agent. He tracks down people who possess and or distribute child pornography.

While Ballard has been at this for years and has arrested many people, his job has taken a significant toll on his life. Many of the perpetrators are outside of the United States, but Ballard feels the problem is too important to let jurisdiction get in the way. He tracks down one pedophile, who inadvertently leads him to the boy who was abducted at the beginning of the movie.

When Ballard discovers the young child has a sister (Rocio), he makes it his mission to track her down.

Caviezel is perfectly cast in this film. His face expresses so much emotion: one second, it seems he is on the brink of tears, and the next, he’s cunning as he attempts to match wits with his adversaries.

We have seen glimpses of trafficking in other films like Hostel and, of course, Taken. The latter was more about Liam Neeson’s portrayal of Bryan Mills and his ‘special set of skills’. This film is more focused on the trade of trafficking and the children being kidnapped and sold.

The film was shot five years ago and was scheduled for release by 20th Century Fox, but when Disney purchased that studio, the film was put on the back burner. The rights were then purchased, and in 2023, it is finally getting its release.

Sound of Freedom is a very powerful film. The film is littered with recognizable stars like Academy Award-winner Mira Sorvino (the wife of director Alejandro Monteverde), Ali Landry, and Bill Camp, who delivers an outstanding performance as Vampiro, an ally to Ballard in the film.

This film is not without controversy. Based on a true story, it calls into question the legitimacy of the events of which the Right and Left have opposing views and use as a pawn of sorts.

The movie can sometimes be heavy-handed, and there are conspiracy theories about why Disney didn’t want to release it.

While those questions persist, the question remains: is Sound of Freedom worth your time?

Absolutely. Political positioning aside, there is a lot about this film that works.

Monteverde was smart enough not to show any violence on the screen where the children were concerned. The audience knows what is happening and is spared from seeing it. A lesser director may have gone down that path but not here. The score undertones the intense themes of the film.

One stark difference between this film and a movie like Taken is that Ballard’s ‘special skills’ aren’t combative. Instead, he assesses the situation and navigates through those moments while dealing with the traffickers. Although a bigger star might have overshadowed these scenes, Caviezel respects and doesn’t detract from the story.

At times the film feels heavy-handed, especially when the phrase “God’s children are not for sale” was used, but I didn’t feel like I was being ‘preached at’ as much as I was being informed.

A movie with intense themes like Sound of Freedom should be carefully considered before deciding to see it, but audiences will be rewarded with a powerful and informative film.

Grade: B+

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