Sound of Freedom is an American film released in 2023 starring Jim Caviezel, Mira Sorvino and Bill Camp. Caviezel plays Tim Ballard, a real-life former U.S. government agent who embarks on a mission to rescue children from sex traffickers in Colombia. It is not an easy subject to take on-board and yet the movie has somehow managed to create a certain level of controversy. It is hard – impossible even – to imagine how highlighting the subject of trafficking children for sex can be controversial; but let’s take a look…
The plot is based on Ballard’s real-life ‘Operation Underground Railroad’, an anti-sex trafficking organization. The film was completed in 2018 but not released until almost five years later! (July 4, 2023). Some people in Hollywood – aka ‘Hollyweird’ – clearly weren’t happy with this movie. But we’ll come to that… Maybe you can work it out for yourselves…
Plot (and clearly multiple Spoiler Alerts)
The movie starts in Honduras when Roberto, a poor father of two, is approached by a former beauty queen, called Giselle, who offers to screentest his young children, Miguel and Rocío, to be child models. He takes them to the photoshoot but when he returns his children are gone. It soon becomes apparent that the children were sold to be used as sex slaves.
Tim Ballard is a Special Agent for the Homeland Security Investigations, where he arrests people who possess and distribute child pornography. He speaks to a predator he arrested, (Ernst Oshinsky) and pretends to be a pedophile himself. Once he gains Oshinsky’s trust, he sets up a meeting with a trafficked child, and is able to arrest the man who purchased Miguel.
Tim rescues Miguel and is able to gain helpful information and learns that Miguel’s sister Rocío is still missing. The boy asks Tim to save her. Tim starts looking for Rocío, and his search leads him to Cartagena, Colombia. He meets with a guy known as Vampiro, a former cartel accountant who now – as some sort of redemption – works to save children from sex trafficking.
After speaking with Vampiro Tim sets up a sting operation. They set up a fake island sex resort where trafficked children can be brought for rich ‘clients’. Undercover, they convince Giselle to sell them 54 children. They manage to arrest all of the traffickers, and free the children. However, Rocío is not one of them.
They learn that Rocío was sold to a revolutionary group that are camped deep in the Amazon. Going there to rescue Rocío is difficult because the region is largely unmapped jungle, and any rebel territory is usually a no-go zone. However, doctors are allowed into the region for medical purposes, which gives Tim the idea to pose as doctors. Ultimately the rebels refuse to let more than one of them enter, so Tim enters the area alone and manages to find and rescue Rocío.
It may be easy to see why the movie has been called ‘controversial’. It is a very uncomfortable subject and one that certain powers-that-be perhaps, may be more uncomfortable with than the rest of us. We all know about ‘Epstein’s Island’ and yet no high profile figures have even been named, let alone prosecuted. There are powerful people out there who would rather this subject was not given such a high profile. Where are these children being sent and who is abusing them? These are the only questions that need to be answered when discussing any “controversy” involving this movie.
It is not a high budget movie but it is well made enough to keep you glued to the story. Caviezel is excellent as Ballard, but don’t expect him to win any shiny little statues this coming “awards season”.
The opening scene alone shows you just how easy it is to entice youngsters who may normally be quite wary. Even more scary than that however it shows just how easy it is to trick the parents. And once tricked it is terrifying. A parents worst nightmare.
The film’s theme is already shocking enough and so it does not go in for any sordid or shocking details and does not show any actual abuse. It doesn’t need to. In fact it only ever hints at it and that in itself is frightening enough to make any point. So, while the main theme of the movie is very scary, the film itself is highly watchable.
Everyone should go and see this film. It is good a enough production to warrant the trip to the cinema. But given its gruesome subject matter, the more success this movie has at the box-office then (hopefully) the more it will be discussed. And the more it is discussed one would hope that more will be done to stop this horrific trade in young children.
I give this film 4 stars out of 5 for quality; 5 out of 5 for dealing so well with such a traumatic issue. Go and see it!
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