You can sell a bag of cocaine one time, but a child five to ten times a day for a decade. This is not polite, comfortable conversation you have at the water cooler or the dinner table. But you should, because it’s happening.
Sure, it’s easier to piss and moan about politics or the economy. It’s even becoming a little more tolerable to discuss the overreaching, tyrannical police forces that exist in countries throughout the world. Maybe ask yourself, why is it that those things are socially acceptable to kibitz about, yet people throughout the world refuse to acknowledge the perpetration of child sex crimes or the existence of a global child sex industry?
Perhaps I’ll indirectly answer that question by using a general term: FEAR. We’ve been programmed to avoid the topic through censoring the word “pedophile” on social media platforms. There are a number of so-called “conspiracy theories” surrounding the blackballing of actors or the deaths of musicians who have dared to address this taboo. Those who enact this great plague on the defenseless have also taught the citizens of the world that they’ll disappear if they try to eradicate it.
Angel Studios has now joined the ranks of those who have put their noses where the modern Axis of Evil have told us they don’t belong by producing and releasing “Sound of Freedom,” a movie bravely written by Rod Barr and Alejandro Monteverde. IMDB’s synopsis of the film reads: “The incredible true story of a former government agent turned vigilante who embarks on a dangerous mission to rescue hundreds of children from sex traffickers.” Based on Hollywood’s unwillingness to let this film see the light of day, it’s no surprise that IMDB did it’s level worst to summarize this film.
After watching Sound of Freedom yesterday (04 JULY 2023), I got a text asking me what any moviegoer can expect to see post-credits, “Was it good?” Here’s my response: “The acting was incredible, the locations were gorgeous, the score was perfect. It was also the worst movie I’ve ever seen.” There’s more to that text that this review will cover after a brief description of the movie.
Sound of Freedom opens with a scene parents anywhere in the world can relate to, a young child displaying their talent, and in this case, a musical talent. In a meeting in her living room, this young girl helps a kind woman convince her father that her talent needs to be shared with the world, with great benefit to this young girl and her father. The kind woman informs him that his daughter would need to report the next day for a photo shoot to jumpstart her career. The girls younger brother happens to walk in during their conversation, and unfortunately for him, this kind woman is also extremely taken with how handsome he is. She tells the father to bring him along for the shoot.
This loving man had no idea that, by dropping his kids off to have pictures taken of them, he was delivering them into the hands of people who sell children into slavery. When he returned to pick his kids up, the office was empty.
From there, the audience is introduced to Tim Ballard, a DHS agent working to combat child sex crimes, played masterfully by Jim Caviezel. We see him interact with and take down a pedophile, all while the video editing and music make us feel AMAZING. A dopamine rush.
But Ballard’s partner kills that mood quickly when he reminds Tim that they weren’t able to rescue the child. After some back-and-forth discussion, Ballard is asked how many pedophiles he has brought to justice, to which he replied:
It seems we’ve become a society that is satisfied with simply treating the symptoms of problems that exist, instead of tackling root causes and eradicating them.
Without spoiling the story the movie depicts, Tim Ballard is introduced to people who help him, as IMDB so clumsily described, “rescue hundreds of children from sex traffickers.” In reality, he formed Operation Underground Railroad and is actively saving kids from the maw of hell.
Ultimately, though, as Jim Caviezel explains during the credits, this movie isn’t about the actors or Tim Ballard or Angel Studios. It’s about the two children who were taken and forced into unspeakable acts that we MUST speak about. They are two young children who were forced into committing sex acts with adults much older than them. They are merely two among the millions of child slaves who are exploited in our country and our world in a child sex industry that generates over $150 BILLION / year. It’s also a movie about hope.
“Hope?” you ask. Let me explain. There’s a special message at the end of the movie, given by Jim Caviezel. He said:
We’ve all participated in socially-acceptable conversations like the ones mentioned previously regarding politics, the economy or even our favorite sportsball teams where the conclusion of everyone in the room is the same. “What’s does it matter, it’s not like we can make difference,” will be the mantra when it’s time to wrap up and go your separate ways.
However, we’re reminded of the power of the storyteller and the impact they can have on society. Abraham Lincoln credited Uncle Tom’s Cabin in his time for the rise in concern about slavery that ultimately lead to its abolition. People read that book, then shared their copy with friends. Others read it in libraries or through the serialized version printed in The National Era. They also heard the story retold by word-of-mouth.
This can have the same impact. Jim continued by saying “We can make Sound of Freedom the Uncle Tom’s Cabin of 21st century slavery.” We are the storytellers that can make the same difference. Like those of Lincoln’s time, we can share this story, much like we do our favorite shows on Netflix or Hulu.
This brings me to the last part of my response to the post-movie text. “Our day will be defined by how we react to being told this story.” This is a problem that transcends political or religious beliefs. For those who are religious, you will eventually have to face a higher being knowing these heinous crimes are being committed against children. For those who believe nature got us where we are, consider how we view historical figures in our day through a lens of seemingly perfect knowledge and condemn entire generations for the acts of some. Complacency will be viewed by future historians just as poorly as those who were active participants, those who do nothing will be condemned right alongside the guilty.
Go see this movie, and tell this story. These kids’ story can be more powerful than the cartel kingpins, or presidents and congressmen, or even tech billionaires. Your voice will make a difference. Join and shout along in chorus with the kids who sang in this movie, “We, God’s Children, are not for sale.”