“Sound of Freedom” Leverages Adventure Formula to Uncover Child Horrors

A B movie with an A message, Alejandro Monteverde’s Sound of Freedom chronicles an unconventional mission by real-life hero Tim Ballard, a U.S. government agent turned mercenary played by Jim Caviezel, who courageously endeavors to rescue children from sex traffickers in Colombia. The writing and acting could have used substantial polishing as much of the film feels like a prolonged PSA (down to a barcode at the end to pay it forward). But as an eye-opening expose of a major societal issue, it’s insightful and at times riveting. Sometimes this undercover thriller feels like it wants to attain the gravitas of a Donnie Brasco or The Departed but often gets sidelined with the craft of a late-season 21 Jump Street episode. There are genuine pacing issues especially in the final reel, after one of the most ingenious acts of entrapment has already taken place and somewhat bursts the momentum. The kid actors are almost roundly better than the adults as the movie relies a little too heavily on obvious tropes, overly sensationalized sentimentality and a moment or two of Rambo meets Taken ham-fisted histrionics. A pencil-mustached pedophile and a supportive wife character played by Mira Sorvino with fewer than three lines didn’t help add to the nuance. However, the film’s message is both faith-based and universal, that God’s children are not for sale. The power of storytelling is crystallized in a meta message from the lead actor in that much-ballyhooed mid-credits narrative and could have been streamlined throughout with judicious edits. But the cause to celebrate is that this movie is inspiring action to tackle a truly dark topic and promoting a global conversation. The director handles sensitive issues delicately and motivates viewers to action. 

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