By JOHN MULDERIG, OSV | Published August 1, 2023
NEW YORK (OSV News —”God’s children are not for sale.” Such is the motto of Tim Ballard, the indefatigably determined real-life crimefighter portrayed by Jim Caviezel in the fact-based drama “Sound of Freedom” (Angel Studios).
The story of Ballard’s battle against the sexual enslavement of kids—a horrifying form of depravity that’s disturbingly widespread—makes for a valuable and ultimately uplifting experience. But that payoff comes at an emotional cost.
Initially, viewers are taken on a heartrending descent into an underworld of utterly vicious cruelty and exploitation via the tale of two young Honduran siblings kidnapped by a ring of traffickers. While working as a U.S. Homeland Security agent, Ballard becomes passionately dedicated to resolving the pair’s case and to bringing down their abductors.
Thus the mood lightens as Ballard first devises and then leads a clever sting operation. He’s aided by Vampiro (Bill Camp), a colorful reformed gang member, and by Paul (Eduardo Verástegui), a wealthy businessman with an amateur’s interest in detective work. Ballard is also consistently cheered on by his supportive wife, Katherine (Mira Sorvino).
Ballard’s indefatigable determination—which not only drives him to imperil his career for altruistic reasons but subsequently to undertake a perilous rescue mission as well—is admirably heroic. And, as suggested by the quotation above, director and co-writer Alejandro Monteverde’s script, penned with Rod Barr, is tinged with references to faith.
Yet Ballard’s bravery is inextricably linked to the revolting evil he confronts. As a result, while moving and well-crafted, “Sound of Freedom” is also undeniably challenging. Parents may nonetheless feel that the movie’s educational impact will be sufficient to make it acceptable fare for older adolescents.
The film contains stylized violence, mature themes, a couple of mild oaths and a smattering of crude and crass language. The OSV News classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
John Mulderig is media reviewer for OSV News. Follow him on Twitter @JohnMulderig1.