In a world often dominated by blockbuster extravaganzas “The Sound of Freedom” stands as a poignant and daring film that delves into the harsh realities of human trafficking. Director and co-writer Alejandro Monteverde brings together a powerful cast in his 2023 action biography, including Jim Caviezel, Mira Sorvino, and Bill Camp, to tell a story that is as heart-wrenching as it is inspiring.
At the film’s core is Tim Ballard, portrayed by Jim Caviezel, a former U.S. government agent who embarks on a mission to rescue children from the clutches of sex traffickers in Colombia. This mission is grounded in Ballard’s real-life Operation Underground Railroad, an anti-sex trafficking organization that he founded. As the plot unfolds and the harsh reality of the underground world of child exploitation is exposed, Ballard reaches a breaking point and goes rogue, setting out on his own to save the younger sister of one of the film’s earlier victim. The audience is taken on a suspenseful journey as Ballard’s determination and bravery are put to the test.
The Sound of Freedom is more than just a film, it’s a call to action against a grave issue that often goes unnoticed and unspoken about.
Critics’ opinions of the film have been mixed, and ultimately the film has been labelled ‘controversial’ by many. Rotten Tomatoes reports a 66% positive rating among critics with the website’s consensus praising the film for its effectiveness in shedding light on the issue of human trafficking while acknowledging certain issues in its depiction of the sensitive subject matter. Variety magazine’s Owen Gleiberman praises the film for its authenticity and its willingness to tackle a subject that much of Hollywood shies away from. He commends it for being a compelling movie that stands as a call to action against human trafficking, regardless of political affiliations.
As mentioned, not all reviews have been glowing. Glenn Kenny of The New York Times raises ethical concerns about the depiction of child actors in sensitive scenes, questioning the director’s choices in approaching such difficult material. The film’s pacing also comes under scrutiny in some reviews. Some experts worry it sensationalises child-trafficking, with Erin Albright, an attorney with extensive experience in the anti-trafficking field, stating the film promotes unhelpful narratives. He worries the film reinforces the common story that trafficking involves forceful kidnapping and imprisonment, making it harder for people to grasp more complex trafficking cases, such as cases of coercive control or psychological manipulation. Distributor of the film Angel Studios, however, acknowledges that the movie’s portrayal of child trafficking does not necessarily reflect the way trafficking occurs in the real world. Angel Studios states it ‘took liberties’ in its depictions throughout the film, “In the beginning of the film, real security camera footage is shown depicting various kidnappings. While such incidents do occur in the realm of human trafficking, it’s important to recognize that they do not represent the majority.”
The Sound of Freedom may be a film of contrasts—mixed reviews from critics and a positive reception from audiences—but it’s undoubtedly a film that contributes to a necessary conversation. It ultimately serves as a reminder that whilst many films serve as a temporary escape from reality, films can also be important calls to action, depicting stories that expose issues that demand our attention and effort. It sheds light on the darkness of human trafficking, showcases the power of determination and compassion, and challenges viewers to become part of the solution. Regardless of its cinematic achievements, the film has succeeded in its goal of raising awareness about this issue.
Watch the trailer here
The film is showing at various locations in Brisbane across Event Cinemas, Cineplex, and Palace Cinemas.