October 5, 2023 – This surprisingly successful low-budget action drama from faith-based Angel Studios in Utah is another big success, following Angel Studio's hit TV series “The Chosen,” depicting the ministry of Jesus Christ and his disciples.
“Sound of Freedom” (like “The Chosen,” largely crowd-funded) follows the incredibly heroic exploits of a real life character, Tim Ballard, founder of Operation Underground Railroad, as he rescues kidnapped children who have been sold into sexual slavery in South America. It is a good, compelling story, but is it a true story? More on that below, but for now we'll pretend that this movie really is based on a true story, as advertised.
Ballard (played by Jim Caviezel of “The Passion of the Christ”) working for Homeland Security Investigations, is shown arresting a man, Ernst Oshinsky (played by Kris Avedisian) for watching child pornography on his computer, one of over 180 consumers of child pornography he has arrested. He feels pretty good about his arrest record, but the sleaziness of the crimes are taking a toll on him.
After a conversation with his partner about the nature of child abductions, and a conversation with Roberto (José Zúñiga) the father of an abducted child, Miguel (Lucás Ávila) he rescues through one of Oshinsky's contacts, Ballard undertakes a mission to find Miguel's abducted sister, Rocío (Cristal Aparicio) in South America.
Aided by Columbian police and a wealthy volunteer, Vampiro (Bill Camp of “Joker”) Ballard sets up an elaborate child sex club sting operation, which ends up freeing over 50 children from sex slavers, but, unfortunately, Rocío is not among them. It turns out she was sold to a man in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and is being held deep in the Amazon jungle.
Ballard is determined to rescue the girl, even though she is in a dangerous, lawless, remote area where the police are afraid to go. Somehow, he manages to convince Vampiro to accompany him into the area in search of Rocío. It is an incredibly dangerous mission. Armed only with his skill, experience, and religious faith, he plunges ahead, leaving his wife and six kids back home to worry about him.As far as it goes, it is a pretty good yarn. The acting is good, but Caviezel's facial expression almost never changes, except a couple of times when he cracks a smile. The ensemble cast is otherwise solid. The musical score of the film is very loud and intrusive, punctuated by a lot of deep booming sounds. There are very few quiet scenes to break up all this noise.
While there are a lot of very dark scenes, the scale of the film and the impressive location shots in Cartagena, Columbia make it look like a more expensive film than it is. This film, with its impressive action, drama and suspense, rates a B.
As I mentioned before, this movie is marketed as being based on a true story, but the main parts of the story are not true, and the hero is not what he is depicted to be. According to Wikipedia, “The film's central plot point, that of a brother and sister lured to a photo shoot in Honduras, is not an event that Ballard has claimed actually happened.” The most dramatic part of the movie, Ballard going into the jungle to rescue Rocío — did not happen at all. The girl referred to in the movie is still missing, according to the website “History vs Hollywood.”
While Ballard says that the child sex club sting operation in Columbia did happen more or less as shown in the movie, the overall depiction of global child sex slave operations are said to be unrealistic. The movie makes it look like large kidnapping operations supplying children to be used for pornography and sex slaves is common. The truth is, that of all the abducted children in the world, those kidnapped by strangers is less than one percent, according to investigative journalist Lynn Packer and investigator Damion Moore of the American Crime Journal, and the child advocacy organization, Safeatlast.com.
The vast majority of missing children are runaways and children kidnapped by parents (particularly in divorce custody disputes) or other relatives or friends of the affected families. In the US, 99 percent of missing children return home alive, according to Safeatlast.com. Of the less than one percent of abductions, those children taken by strangers (about 100 children kidnapped per year in the U.S.) for ransom, or held or killed by sexual predators, some 10 to 15 of those children are killed. Child kidnappings have declined in recent years, in part due to technology and scientific advances which aid law enforcement, according to the Albany Times Union story written immediately after the notorious kidnapping for ransom of Charlotte Sena on September 30, 2023 (she was rescued by police and returned to her family).
The reason for basing the movie on a kidnapping by a stranger is that such a story is very dramatic, and the child sex trade is so depraved that it further heightens the drama of the search and rescue. Unfortunately this story also plays into some popular QAnon conspiracy stories, the oldest and most reprehensible can be traced back to the “blood libel” story that Jews use the blood of murdered children in their rituals. Millions of people agree with a QAnon belief that governments, and other institutions, are being run by “Satan-worshiping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation,” and that former President Donald Trump will save us from it, according to surveys.
Originally, “blood libel” was an anti-Christian story. A thousand years later it became an anti-Jewish story(in other words, it is a story that can be taken off the shelf to use against any group you hate). This story has been linked to the popular QAnon stories about a worldwide organization of Satanic, cannibalistic child molesters operating a child sex trafficking ring conspiring against Donald Trump.
The star of “Sound of Freedom,” Jim Caviezel, who portrays Tim Ballard, has also been spreading these same QAnon conspiracy stories. Both Ballard and Caviezel have been defending the oft-debunked QAnon and Pizzagate story that people are torturing children to extract “adrenochrome” from their blood in order to stay young (a story which is a direct descendant of “blood libel”). Since the opening of “Sound of Freedom” in July, internet searches for adrenochrome have increased to the highest levels since 2020.
That politician Donald Trump would be QAnon's savior of children is truly ironic in that he has been accused of sexual assaults. He also visited Jeffrey Epstein's infamous island over half a dozen times (Bill Clinton went there too). Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy financier, later died in prison, as a convicted sex offender. Trump and Clinton's visits to the island were revealed during the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell. She was found guilty of sex trafficking of underage girls and other offences in connection with Epstein.
It is probably no coincidence that QAnon conspiracies cast a blind eye towards the transgressions of Republicans like Trump, Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz while targeting Democrats like Hillary Clinton. QAnon is very pro-Republican and anti-Democratic, which is probably not a coincidence. QAnon followers were among those who tried to overthrow the U.S. government on January 6, 2021.
Ballard, the hero of “Sound of Freedom,” and champion of QAnon stories, is reportedly thinking of running for Mitt Romney's Utah Senate seat in the next election. However, he is carrying a lot of baggage. He was expelled from the organization he created, Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) after being accused of sexual misconduct. According to Vice, Ballard “invited women to act as his 'wife' on undercover overseas missions ostensibly aimed at rescuing victims of sex trafficking. He would then allegedly coerce those women into sharing a bed or showering together, claiming that it was necessary to fool traffickers.”
According to Forbes, while “Angel Studios, the film’s distributor (“Sound of Freedom”) denies any connection to conspiracy theories or politics, but both Ballard and Caviezel have defended the adrenochrome harvesting theory in recent interviews.” Angel Studios is not going to get rid of the QAnon stink easily. Angel Studios is getting rich from the QAnon conspiracy believers, so it has an incentive not to stray too far from QAnon sex crime stories in any future sequels to this movie.
The truth about child sex traficking is even worse, in some ways, than what is shown in this movie. A lot of this activity is called “Familial Sex Trafficking.” According to SAFE (safe4us.org) which defines it as victim's families, or others close to the families, who are “traffickers (who sell victims for profit) giving offenders sexual access to victims or pornography in exchange for drugs, money, or something else of value ... More than 200,000 children are victims of sex trafficking in the U.S. every year, and their families or family friends are the most likely to exploit them. For 90% of victims, child trafficking starts in the home.”
If this truth was shown in a movie, it would not make nearly as much money as “Sound of Freedom” made, because it would not fit neatly into those QAnon conspiracies. A rough estimate of the QAnon audience is 28 million people (that is the 11 percent of the adult population of the U.S. who think, according to surveys, that, “The government, media and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation.” Crazy, I know, but that is what millions of people think these days. Thanks a lot, Facebook.
The foul stink of QAnon on “Sound of Freedom” is the main reason I waited for it to be streamed online before I reviewed it. I did not want any of my money to go to anything related to QAnon, because it is so divisive, evil and vile. Angel Studios has said it is going to offer “Sound of Freedom” to be streamed for free at its web site (it is currently streaming only for “Angel Guild members”).
Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.