“Sound of Freedom” Raises the Alarm Against Human Trafficking

Cristal Aparicio as Rocio Aguilar in "Sound of Freedom" courtesy Angel Studios

With “Sound of Freedom,” acclaimed Mexican director, Alejandro Monteverde (“Bella”), presents a compelling story that aims to raise awareness about the trafficking of minors. The movie pays tribute to Tim Ballard, who devoted his life to rescuing children from human trafficking around the world.

“Sound of Freedom” dramatizes Ballard’s incredible true story, which is portrayed passionately by Jim Caviezel (“The Passion of Christ,” “Person of Interest”). Ballard, a former Homeland Security officer, sets off to face the harsh realities of human trafficking head-on.

“Sound of Freedom” made efficient use of its modest budget of $14.5 million. The film made nearly $250 million globally and nearly $185 million in North America.

Fox Latin America was set to release the film in 2019; however, after Disney acquired the film rights, they decided to postpone the release indefinitely. It took five years for the filmmakers to re-acquire rights to the film from Disney to be able to release it.

The release of the film was further postponed due to the pandemic. It was rejected by several major studios and streaming services. Ultimately, “Sound of Freedom” was released last year by Angel Studios.

The film opens in Honduras with the abduction of Roberto Aguilar’s (José Zúñiga “Madam Secretary”) two kids, Miguel (Lucás Ávila) and Rocio (Cristal Aparicio), by Katy-Giselle (Yessica Borroto “Narcos: Mexico”), who lures them and several other children with promises of child modeling jobs.

Ballard’s efforts to save Rocio became more challenging after he successfully saved Miguel. Rocio then becomes the focus of rescue efforts.

Ballard went on to launch Operation Underground Railroad (OUR), flying to Colombia to assist law enforcement in rescuing Rocio and numerous other victims in a massive undercover operation.

Monteverde refrained from showing explicit graphic content, effectively illustrating the horror of child trafficking without the need for images of the victims being victimized.

The timing of the sequences was one of the areas where the movie could have been better. Some scenes seemed rushed, perhaps purposely to dramatize the urgency of the subject matter, and the changes between scenes were sudden. Although the movie did a fantastic job of delivering its message, a more deliberate pace would have given audiences more time to connect to the story emotionally.

While I appreciated Mira Sorvino’s portrayal of Katherine Ballard, I felt that her character’s involvement could have been more substantial. Specifically, I wished there were more scenes between her and Ballard, as their dynamic held significant real-life inspiration for his mission to combat child trafficking. It would have been enriching to dive into their relationship and how Katherine’s influence motivated Ballard.

Caviezel’s portrayal of Ballard’s efforts to stop the brutal realities of human trafficking brilliantly switches between moments of determination to agony. Especially in his eyes, which gives depth to his character, Caviezel’s ability to portray a wide range of emotions is what makes him stand out. The film ends with the harsh truth that human trafficking is a $158 billion industry and that the United States is one of the largest markets for child exploitation and one of the top destinations for trafficking.

While fans of the film were disappointed that “Sound of Freedom” was not recognized by the Golden Globes or Academy Awards, the 2024 Movieguide Awards awarded it the Faith and Freedom Award for Movies.

“Sound of Freedom” is a moving reminder that everyone can make a difference in the struggle against wrongdoing.

There are more humans trapped in slavery today than at any other time in history, including when slavery was legal. In addition to educating, encouraging, and empowering viewers, “Sound of Freedom” provides an engaging cinematic experience that every viewer would benefit from watching.

“Sound of Freedom” is rated PG-13 for thematic content involving sex trafficking, violence, language, sexual references, drug references and smoking throughout. “Sound of Freedom” can be now watched on Apple TV, Prime Video, or YouTube.