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Today’s Prayer Focus
MOVIE REVIEW

Sound of Freedom

also known as “Özgürlüğün Sesi,” “Zvuk slobode,” “Звук свободы”
MPA Rating: R-Rating (MPA) for thematic content involving sex trafficking, violence, language, sexual references, some drug references and smoking throughout.

Reviewed by: Jim O'Neill
CONTRIBUTOR

Moral Rating: Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: • Young-Adults • Adults
Genre: Action Biography Drama
Length: 2 hr. 15 min.
Year of Release: 2022
USA Release: November 12, 2022 (festival)
July 4, 2023 (wide release)
DVD: November 14, 2023
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Relevant Issues
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Fighting the horrible sin of sex trafficking children and the evil people behind it—practicing one of the very worst kinds of evil

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Modern child slavery

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Crime fighting

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Rescuing the helpless

Courage, bravery, self-sacrifice

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About the fall of mankind to worldwide depravity

What is SIN AND WICKEDNESS? Is it just “bad people” that are sinners, or are YOU a sinner? Answer

Learn about spiritual darkness versus light

What is the JUSTICE OF GOD?

What is THE FINAL JUDGMENT OF GOD? Answer

Featuring James Caviezelhellip; Tim Ballard
Mira SorvinoKatherine Ballard
Bill CampVampiro
Kurt FullerFrost
José Zúñiga (Jose Zuniga) … Roberto
Gustavo Sánchez ParraEl Calacas
Yessica Borroto Perryman (Yessica Borroto) … Katy-Gisselle
See all »
Director Alejandro Monteverde
Producer Santa Fe Films
Lukas Behnken
See all »
Distributor Distributor: Angel Studios. Trademark logo.Angel Studios, Inc.

See eye-opening video interview below with director Monteverde and lead actor Caviezel

Alejandro Monteverde’s prior films, “Bella” (2006) and “Little Boy” (2015) were admirable efforts. He made salient points about issues that no Hollywood filmmaker wants to touch, but the stories he molded around those themes could have used more structure and less sentiment; more meat, less cheese.

Monteverde’s new film, “Sound of Freedom,” is well scripted, well paced, and superbly acted. James Caviezels unsurprisingly masterful as Tim Ballard, the US Homeland Security agent who goes rogue in order to rescue children from sex traffickers, but Caviezel is equaled, and sometimes outshone, by a strong cast of supporting actors, especially José Zúñiga as a helpless father who has his children stolen from him, and Gustavo Sánchez Parra and Yessica Borroto Perryman as kidnappers and child suppliers. The latter two disappear into their roles as evil incarnations, yet they endow their characters with enough sweetness to make them endearing, and, therefore, all the more menacing.

Bill Camp gives the film’s best performance as Batman (Vampiro), a former money launderer for the Colombian cartels, who has repented for his past sins and now works undercover to help free children from slavery. Dressed in Hawaiian shirts and constantly swilling whiskey and chomping a cigar, he is reminiscent of the boozy and world-weary loner whose corrupt talents turn him from a suspicious outsider into a consummate insider, a worthy heir to Ernie Kovacs’ Captain Segura in “Our Man in Havana” or Sydney Greenstreet’s Signor Ferrari in “Casablanca.” But Batman’s journey is not a cynical one. His is a conversion story, a moving one which Camp recounts in a soliloquy that is unsparing and fearless. That speech, done in daring close-up, is the film’s most searing sequence.

The story opens with Roberto (Zúñiga), a father of an 11 year old girl and a 7 year old boy, bringing both of his children to what appears to be an audition in an apartment building on a quiet Mexican street. The talent scout (Perryman) is beautiful and appears trustworthy. She has a number of other child contestants under her care, and is so reassuring that Roberto leaves his children with her. When he returns to pick them up, the apartment is empty and the children are gone.

The film follows the boy and girl’s journey into a hellish world, avoiding visually graphic details, but not shying away from the emotional toll and the physical scars of child sex abuse.

Ballard, meanwhile, stays committed to his job hunting and capturing pedophiles, pathetic men who consume and trade child pornography on the internet. His success in making arrests does not satisfy him because he realizes that, although he is bringing perpetrators to justice, he is not rescuing the victimized children. By developing a relationship with a jailed pedophile, Ballard is able to establish a link to a child trafficking chain which allows him to pursue a number of stolen children, including Roberto’s.

Ballard’s commitment to his mission to stop what he has discovered to be the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world is intense, almost self-sacrificial, because, as he himself says, “God’s children are not for sale.”

The rest of the film plays out like an adventure tale taking the protagonists on trips to the US-Mexico border, to the cities and jungles of Colombia, and even to a private island (real-estate that pedophiles seem to find particularly advantageous to their pursuits).

Ballard is forced to abandon his position with Homeland Security, along with his pension, because the department’s bureaucracy will not cover the expense or the political liability of such a trip. He and his small team go it alone, posing as doctors who are bringing vaccines to the rural populace of the Colombian jungles.

What they find there is a modern day slave colony where adults and children harvest coca leaves and, using their bare feet, crush the leaves to cocaine paste. They toil under the iron hand, and rifle, of a demonic drug lord. It is a “Heart of Darkness” journey, but one in which chastened hearts overcome dark ones.

The plot may seem formulaic at times, and a lot of it seems to lie far outside the realm of “a true story,” but this is a dramatic film, an,d as such, it succeeds on almost all counts. The suspense is tight, at times achingly so, thanks to adept cinematography and seamless editing. There are some impressive linkings of real security camera footage of child seizures on residential streets and newsreel footage of cops raiding pedophile islands that add both excitement and verisimilitude to the scenes.

For filmmakers having to operate on a low budget and to pay for their own distribution, they have produced a worthy product that stands up to any of this year’s action films, most of which are more artifice than adventure. Despite their massive budgets and skillful effects teams, the “Transformers” and “Indiana Jones” franchises ended as leaden embarrassments. Monteverdi and his team, on the other hand, get maximum results with minimal resources.

“Sound of Freedom” has strong Christian themes, ones that direct us toward our human anthropology, what we were made to be. And to do. One of the characters, in response to being asked why he would take on such a difficult mission, responds: “Because when God asks you to do something, you do not say no.”

Okay, there are times when the script may take it a bit to far with the “little ones and the millstone” analogies (see Matthew 18:6), but Caviezel makes the best of his Bible-quoted lines; those blue eyes burn when he speaks the words from Luke’s gospel. He emphasizes dialog only when he has to, revealing that rare quality that effectively blends softly spoken words and silences with moments of fiery intensity. Most actors do not get that right. Paul Scofield could do it; these days, Gary Oldman is one of few who gets it right. James Caviezeloes too.

Monteverdi, his co-screenwriter, Rod Barr, the production team and the cast of “Sound of Freedom” deserve respect and esteem for releasing a good action film that is not afraid to emphasize its Christian roots. Most Hollywood films that take inspiration from a faith-based story wind up scrapping the Christian angle in the development phase, and, in the end, they lose something. Nonetheless, there is hope on the horizon. The recent farcical film, “Renfield,” by inspired comic director Chris McKay (“The Lego Batman Movie’), seems to cry out for a savior, and for a God that will take the place of all the false gods we surround ourselves with.

In the meantime, Monteverdi’s latest film is a cause for joy, not only because it reminds us of where we have come from but where we should be going. Adventure stories, in addition to being good entertainment, can be spiritual journeys too, for both the filmmaker and the filmgoer.

  • Violence: Heavy
  • Drugs/Alcohol: Heavy
  • Profane language: Moderate
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Moderate
  • Sex: Moderate
  • Nudity: None
  • Occult: None
  • Wokeism: None
Streaming video— 
Director Alejandro Monteverde and actor James Caviezel talk about this film, slam woke media for hiding the truth, call for sex-trafficking whistleblowers
The fact that Hollywood, Netflix and Amazon do not support this movie says it all.
Interview by The Daily Signal
Length: 18 minutes

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive
Positive—This is such a good movie, I love how they made a movie about the horrific reality of child sex trafficking and did it so tastefully… you know what’s happening, but it doesn’t show all the graphic details, it tackles darkness without making it horrific to view. It is very moving. The acting is incredible, I love how they show some of the actual characters in the movie at the end and give you an update on Tim Ballard‘s work of rescuing children. There were a couple swearwords and a little bit of course talk but still very well handled for such a horrific subject, There is no reference to God however, you can’t but see the hand of God throughout the movie, it’s obvious the heroine is a man of faith. Go see it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Tamid, age 53 (USA)
Positive—Powerful. This movie has a strong message that needs to be seen, understood and acted upon. Yes, the subject matter is heavy and extremely troubling, yet it’s so important that awareness of these horrible crimes is brought to the forefront of society and no longer hidden away. As the movie puts it, “it’s a subject not talked about in polite conversation,’ which hopefully viewing of this film will change.

The movie is extremely well done with building suspense as it plays. While watching, you don’t want to look away, even for a moment. The background thread of children singing interspersed throughout the movie added an important level of innocence to the harsh reality. The locations, particularly Columbia, are amazing and shown with beautiful cinematography.

The acting is superb. Jim Caviezel shows compassion and a sense of urgency as he pursues the trafficking ring. His underlying sadness as he confronts the evil is compelling. Both the main child actors are very good and believable in their heart wrenching roles. The character of Vampiro, excellently played by Bill Camp, added an interesting contrast and gave more depth to the story line. I would have liked to see more of Mira Sorvino as Tim Ballard’s wife, yet the focus on catching the criminals and finding the children is unwavering as it needs to be for full impact.

Although the subject matter is tough, the film does not show gratuitous sex or violence. It has the wisdom to imply, and leave things to one’s imagination, which I think makes it all the more profound.

God bless all the brave souls who regularly work to free children from trafficking and the moviemakers for sticking with this project for so long to get it shown to the public. Please support this movie and filmmakers while it’s playing theaters and help bring this evil to light. The time has come.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Stephanie, age 62 (USA)
Positive—First—one must be fully prepared as a viewer to attend—this is not a movie that is for “entertainment” in a traditional sense. Viewers who may have a history of SA and other similar trauma may need to consider passing on the movie, or ensuring they are well and prayerfully prepared to engage the film.

Second—parents need to be well aware of the content so as to protect their children appropriately. Not saying older teens could not view and properly engage the film, but be aware of little and adolescent eyes and hearts.

Third—disregard most of what you may have read or heard in various media outlets—go see for yourself.

The film is hard hitting for many reasons. The fact a veteran agent would forgo retirement and leave his family for seasons to work against the sex trafficking industry is absolutely incredible and yet indicates the faith of the family—they would trust God to provide, regardless of what the bank account indicates.

I was thankful the film did not show graphic sexual abuse, but it is clear in the manner in which the film-makers presented the story. It does not hit “less” hard but it protects the viewer.

One thing I often hear of as confusing is how to combine efforts where faith is the driving factor with people and organizations who do not share the same faith or ethics. The goal is the desired outcome, but how to often work together with others of different values is not often discussed.

I did appreciate the depiction of the police forces in the foreign countries as having elements which desired to “protect and serve” versus the ever-present views that everyone is corrupt.

God’s children are not for sale is a good quotation for a believer to remember—and a reminder the world outside our safe spaces—homes, churches, family—is often a world of hell for the most vulnerable.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Casey, age 58 (USA)
Positive—Powerful film about sex trafficking of children. This is an intense movie that will stir your heart and make you angry at the same time. At the end of the movie, statistics show that the U.S. is the biggest consumer of this heinous crime which in itself is so very tragic. Jim Caviezel, with the rest of the cast, does an incredible job with this very sensitive subject. I read that Disney was supposed to release this film but passed on it, not a surprise! Now it is one of the most successful films… If you haven’t see this movie, please go see it. Very powerful.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Wayne, age 68 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I must respectfully disagree with the reviewer and those of us who believe that “The Sound of Freedom’ would not offend Christian views, beliefs, the Bible, or the commands and ethics of The Lord Our God. It does. If you doubt my words, then consider this quotation: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”

This strongly suggests that God will not take kindly for fantasizing about sinful things any less than he will for those who do sinful things. So that if I play Dungeons and Dragons and we pretend that my character is venerating an evil deity with human sacrifice, Jesus might then say I am guilty of taking pleasure in the sinful idea of something even though I have not actually done it.

How can we depict the sexual assault of children and other terrible crimes and hide behind the notion that because it is not happening in real life, we are blameless? Seeing little children screaming for help while imprisoned in a shipping crate is a demonic thing to portray. It is equally demonic to watch the rebel commander start undoing his pants as he prepares to assault the young female protagonist as she lies helplessly on his bed. Sorry Mr. Caviezel, this is not a movie anyone should want to become the rebel yell against sex crimes and human evil. A movie like “The Jesus Revolution” is more appropriate for that.

Now consider King David’s Psalm 101 verse 3, “I will set no evil thing before my eyes.’ This is David’s way of reject Satan and his allies, to the point the holy king would rather kill and destroy the enemies of God rather than suffer them to live in his capital city.

True, Christ forbade revenge in any form. He would not be pleased with the decision to kill evil people. But let us say that in the age before Christ, God was not displeased that David wanted to destroy evil and even endorsed David’s actions by calling him “The man after (His) Own Heart.”

Now we come to the crux of the matter: hiring child actors to portray trafficking victims and witness adult actors supposedly “pretend’ to do evil things to them constitutes corruption of children. In Canada, we have a law that forbids corrupting of minors and that includes showing them evil things they should not see.

It is for these reasons that “The Sound of Freedom’ is a mistake and a travesty. Just because terrible things happen in our world does not mean we ought to reproduce them and take pleasure in them by proxy. Watching a movie, etc, is that very thing.

Yes, the movie is exceptionally well-produced for a small studio production. It is the misguided thinking behind that is worrisome. I would not want my son or daughter to playact a victim in this movie. It would be setting the wrong message and confusing them. Rather, I would be proud of my son or daughter appearing in a wholesome series like “Touched by an Angel.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
Christopher (Roman Catholic), age 44 (Canada)

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