Elke and I made a somewhat belated run up to Moore yesterday to watch Angel Studios’* important film, The Sound of Freedom, directed and co-written by Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Monteverde. We strongly recommend it.
The film is compelling and mostly well-acted, taking us from Tegucigalpa to Calexico, Cartagena, Bogota, and rebel-held strongholds of the southern Colombian mountains, following a suspenseful journey to rescue a large group of sex-trafficked kids. This includes two separated Honduran siblings in particular, the little brother saved while being smuggled across the border from Mexicali. With him, the lead character becomes especially bonded, and promises and becomes determined to find and save the sister at all costs, at great risk to his own life. The overall feel was part Miami Vice, part (insert your favorite hostage-rescue thriller here).
As such movies go, just on script and flow alone, The Sound of Freedom is only a little above average. But because the subject matter is so serious, compelling and important, and based on real events, its overtly stated goal of raising awareness is solidly justified. Crime statistics don’t come close to representing the scale of the problem either, because so much of it is unreported, underground, and extraterritorial to U.S. enforcement efforts. Some unknown amount also has remained hidden right under our noses, both in the streets and in illegal loci for wealthy “customers” (think Epstein Island).
The Sound of Freedom is based on the real-life story of an ICE child-trafficking investigator, Tim Ballard, portrayed by Jim Caviezel, whose investigations were cut off by the bureaucracy due to perceived poor cost/benefit ratio, just as he was about to drill deep enough into a child-trafficking ring to blow it up. Unwilling to let the older sister of the siblings continue to be a slave for a pedophilic drug lord, Tim resigned from ICE, then teamed up with a reformed drug kingpin and Colombian law enforcement to carry out the mission anyway.
Other than the ugly but decidedly real-world topic (and some violence) possibly being too intense for preteen children, I don’t see what possibly could be controversial about this movie, or the fundamental premise it makes of ending child trafficking and enslavement. It’s hard to balance realistic portrayal of this hideous problem with “showing too much” or being gratuitous, but I think they pulled it off well. The struggle to stop pedophilia and prostitution of children should be a universally agreed noble cause across the entire political spectrum — except to the sickos doing it and those covering for and enabling them.
The film is conspicuously apolitical: no mention of any political party or politicians by name whatsoever, and just a generic mention (in a positive way) of Congress in the end statements, using footage from the real Tim Ballard’s testimony to get more international cooperation on fighting the evil scourge of child trafficking.
* The movie is five years old but only came out this month. Despite being finished in 2018, the movie’s distribution deal was somehow passed off from 20th Century Fox to Disney, who shelved it (why?), until the filmmakers bought the rights back. They ultimately went with Angel Studios, producers of the multiseason Jesus and Disciples series, The Chosen. Only after Angel could crowdsource enough money to market and distribute the film, was it released. It’s strange that a film that has done so well had to follow such a convoluted path to theaters.