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“Sound of Freedom”

Echoes in the Heart
 “Sound of Freedom” (PG-13) has become the sleeper hit of the summer. (Angel Studios)

It is rare that a film based on a true-life story is as good and as successful as “Sound of Freedom” (PG-13), especially an independent film with a small budget ($14.5 million) by Hollywood standards, and one that had no pre-release advertising. As of this writing, the film has grossed more than $172 million, making it the sleeper hit of the summer.

So what makes this film that good?  It’s a combination of things, beginning with a real story that demonstrates “truth is stranger than fiction.” The truth of this film is that a single person with the heart of a lion can change an ongoing tragedy into a mission to save exploited children around the world. “Sound of Freedom” enlists viewers in the mission through the power of storytelling and the focus on the life of one child.

Adding to the truth, the children in the film were in fact rescued from sex trafficking, and the hero was a real Department of Homeland Security agent named Jim Ballard, portrayed by Jim Caviezel. Among other credits, Caviezel portrayed Hobbes in the 2013 film, “Escape Plan,” with Sylvester Stallone, Jesus in the 2004 hit, “The Passion of the Christ,” and the 1998, seven-time Emmy-nominated film, “The Thin Red Line.”

Caviezel paints a convincing and heart-felt portrait of Ballard who spent 12 years pursuing pedophiles and sex traffickers. As a father of six, Ballard felt compelled to quit his job and put his life on the line in hopes of reuniting a girl with her father and another victim, her younger brother. If this had been an ordinary movie, it might have realistically ended with the satisfaction of rescuing one child. But Ballard is a man of great skill and courage, and in every sense, a superhero. So as the trail stretches to another continent, the tension builds into high action.

Complementing Caviezel is veteran actor Bill Camp, who gives a double-edged performance worthy of “Best Supporting Actor” as Ballard’s cunning and jovial partner in justice. Though Camp many not be a household name (yet), he’s appeared in at least five films nominated for Best Picture: “Joker” (2019), “Lincoln” (2012), “12 Years a Slave,” (2013), “Birdman,” and “Vice” (2018).

Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino also appears in the film in a limited role, portraying Ballard’s supportive wife. Cristal Aparicio, who plays herself as the young girl in the film, shows her acting experience. “Sound of Freedom,” which was shot in 2018 is now her third film. (She’s now 17.)

Understandably, the movie takes some dramatic license. But this film is powerful, and it’s unusual for two other reasons:

  1. “Sound of Freedom” was crowd-funded with more than 6,000 investors but almost didn’t see the light of day after Disney acquired the film’s distributor, 20th Century Fox. The producers urgently wanted the story told. But according to a report by Newsweek, an international distribution deal prior to Disney’s acquisition gummed things up and the film got shelved. In any case, Angel Studios finally purchased the rights to it in 2023.
  2. After the credits roll, there is a “special message.” In a heart-wrenching delivery, Caviezel speaks a hard truth: There are more people held in slavery now than at any time in human history. The goal of the movie is to get the word out, and Caviezel suggests moviegoers buy a ticket for someone who might not otherwise see it, “because God’s children are not for sale.”

“Sound of Freedom” is an important film. You may want to count yourself among the more than 15 million who have seen it already.





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About the Contributor
Charles Bins
Charles Bins, Writer, illustrator
Charles Bins is the author of Quirky Stories & Poems: Backwards, Forward & Upside Down published in the fall of 2023. The book is about many things – real and fictional accounts about growing up, pleasure and pain, good and evil, as well as quirky insights into human nature.  As a marketing PR pro, he wrote hundreds of articles for clients on topics spanning business, technology and consumer products. Early in his career, he was a syndicated entertainment columnist, interviewing celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Kenny Rogers and Patty Duke. He lives with his wife, Mary, two cats and a cockatoo in Leland, N.C. Learn more on his website.


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