Written by Rod Barr and Alejandro Monteverde
Starring Jim Caviezel, Mira Sorvino, Bill Camp
Distributed by Angel Studios
Running time: 131 minutes
Rated PG-13 for language, drug and alcohol use, indirect depictions of child sexual abuse
I read, write, watch, and play a lot of content that falls into the action and/or horror genres. In fiction, very little upsets me, including depictions of graphic violence. But Sound of Freedom is one of the most emotionally taxing movies I’ve ever seen—and it’s absolutely worth watching.
The film is based on a true story and follows Homeland Security agent Tim Ballard (Jim Caviezel) who, in 2013, was part of a task force responsible for tracking and arresting people who distribute child pornography online. After arresting a particularly prolific offender named Oshinsky, Ballard begins to wonder how much good he’s really doing; he’s arrested many people for possession and distribution of child abuse content but has yet to save a single child. He befriends Oshinsky, pretending to be a child abuser himself, and makes a bogus offer: He will see to it that Oshinsky serves little or no prison time if he provides Ballard with a real child. Eventually, Ballard persuades Oshinsky to facilitate a deal with a Colombian human trafficking ring, during which he purchases an eight-year-old boy named Miguel. As soon as the deal is done, Ballard files new charges against Oshinsky and befriends Miguel, who tells him that his sister, Rocío, was also abducted and sold into slavery. The rest of the film follows Ballard’s quest to find the missing girl and return her to her family.
When I bought tickets for Sound of Freedom, I didn’t look at its rating—I assumed that it was rated R. I was shocked to discover that it’s rated PG-13 (I would not show the film to most teenagers under sixteen). And yet, it is consistently restrained, measured, and tactful in its approach to a deeply uncomfortable subject. No sexual abuse is shown on-screen, but the implied off-screen abuse of children as young as four is nonetheless stomach-churning. Such scenes easily could have made the film unwatchable if not for its excellent pacing; director Alejandro Monteverde has a keen sense of when to cut to a less traumatic scene to give viewers time to recover.
Despite the film’s subject matter, its goal is not to disturb or upset viewers for shock value. . . .
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1. This quote is paraphrased.