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The Sound of Freedom and the Maligning of Truth

When the Apolitical Becomes Political

By Kevin RollyPublished 2 months ago Updated about a month ago 8 min read
Top Story - August 2023

So much stink has surrounded this film that I went to see it to see if any of the media criticism leveled at it had any merit. Is it a conspiracy laden melodrama exploiting child trafficking for a buck? Is it a call to awareness about this dark hidden world that we all know exists but don’t hear about much? Is it good? Is it bad? So many questions... So let’s pull the trigger on this and get to bottom of it.

Sound of Freedom follows the real life story of Tim Ballard (Jim Caviezel) who is a DHS operative compelled to go on a rescue mission of two children in Columbia after busting a pedophile who was uploading images of children for sale on the dark web. After the bust Ballard views with disgust and anguish the vast material he had stored in shelves choked with hundreds of illicit files.

The film never shows the material of course but plays to heartbreaking effect the crushing emotion on Ballard’s face evoking the shattering reality of what he is viewing. In this scene no words are spoken. It’s pure cinema allowing the audience to imagine the horror for themselves. Here Caviezel demonstrates his mastery as an actor while screenwriters Rod Barr and Alejandro Monteverde show immense restraint in not pushing it too far. Hint, don't show. And this becomes the hallmark of the film. Despite the heavy subject matter, the film never strays into melodrama nor exploitation which it so easily could have. And Alejandro Monteverde’s direction is understated and never calls attention to itself. Unlike a number of modern directors, he has no need to show off or be clever because mature directors know how to serve the story and not the other way around. The cinematography and editing are both equally superb and the music by Javier Navarrete creates a haunting tension punctuated by staccato rhythms to drive the action. So far so good, filmmakers.

The movie opens in Honduras with a long shot drawing closer to a young girl named Rocio played by the astounding Cristal Aparicio singing in her bedroom while tapping out her melody with her little shoes. It’s innocent, playful and utterly haunting because we all know where this all is going. We meet her brother Miguel played with equal strength by Lucás Ávila as our villainess Katy (Yessica Borroto) shows up on the scene to entice them into modeling and convincing their father Roberto (Jose Zuñiga) to bring them to a casting along with a roomful of other hopeful models tricked into this. You know it’s all going to go south quickly which gives the scene its quiet horror. And sure enough when Roberto arrives to pick them up hours later everyone is gone. My only nit-pick with this was, where were all the other parents? There should be a dozen of them, but I was willing to forgive this because the film had won me by this point.


Without giving it away, dots are connected and Ballard risks everything for this ambitious almost impossible rescue mission and is forced to quit the DHS because his vision extends beyond what they can allow. He's not just going to free these two kids, he's going to free a hundred in an elaborate sting mission involving a billionaire financer, seedy trafickers, pedophile clients and an underground team along with the military. On the surface it would seem implausable except for the fact that Ballared actually pulled it off in real life as the film demonstrates with the actual sting footage shown at the end of the film. It's as real and nail biting as it can get.

Sound of Freedom weaves masterfully between past and present as details about the kidnappings get revealed as Ballard and his team move into increasingly dangerous waters of searching for Miguel and Rocio against staggering odds. Here we meet one of my favorite characters in the film: Vampiro played by the incredible Bill Camp of The Queen’s Gambit and The Joker. He’s an ex-cartel guy and the perfect humorous counter to Ballard’s stoicism and gives the film it’s needed levity. He’s confident, connected and knowledgeable with a heartbreaking backstory that is nothing short of moving and probably one of my favorite scenes. Throughout the movie the filmmakers demonstrate a mature, confident constraint knowing less is more and evading the trap of emotional manipulation and shock for shock’s sake.

Ballard and Vampiro

Sound of Freedom is not an easy watch however. It’s an emotionally harrowing film and the reactions could be heard throughout the theater. It’s fast paced where it needs to be and thoughtful when required. Ultimately it delivers a satisfying uplifting ending that is well earned and applause erupted afterwards. I haven’t had that kind of collective movie experience in many years.

So let me state this for a fact - the film is absolutely uncontroversial and deals unflinchingly and unapologetically with a very real world tragedy. Yet controversy has somehow been imposed upon it by the media and it’s baffling to me. One would think a real life hero film about rescuing abused children would be universally praised. But paint me shocked and the criticisms were doozies.

Rolling Stone: “‘Sound Of Freedom’ Is a Superhero Movie for Dads With Brainworms” with the equally condemning tag line “the QAnon-tinged thriller about child-trafficking, is designed to appeal to the conscience of a conspiracy-addled boomer.”

The Guardian was equally captious with “the QAnon-adjacent thriller seducing America” while calling it “paranoid” while Salon dishes up this one, “It's "Uncle Tom's Cabin," but for QAnon: Film spreading child trafficking hysteria.”

Good Lord…

You’d think by reading this that child trafficking was simply conjured out of thin air or at worst “not that bad” and we shouldn’t get our panties in a bunch over it. Yeah, Salon we should just chill out over children getting raped. I'll get to the actual horrifying statistics later.

So let's get to the Q-Anon conspiracy theory that is unethically being used as a mainstream foil to this film.

The problem with the Q narrative (where there is a vast intercontinental tunnel network where multiple millions of children are tortured for their blood to keep the elites like Hillary Clinton and Celine Dion looking young) ….is incomprehensibly stupid. So much so that now the mere phrase “child sex trafficking” has become a dog whistle itself, so its mere mention sends people into conniptions of dismissiveness. And I believe this was by design. Make something so hyperbolic that the actual problem gets ignored. And that’s how we arrived here. I know people who refuse to see the film because doing so is somehow a political compromise that panders to conspiracy theorists. Like you have to be right wing in order to see it. It’s a dumb low resolution argument. The film is purposefully apolitical and besides it was completed five years ago before Q-anon was even a thing.

So the question is why is there so much pushback against a film that deals with the rescuing of trafficked children? Look no further than Jeffery Epstein and his evil trafficking pimp Ghislaine Maxwell who were both associated with the highest of "elites" inculding Harvey Weinstein. These roots run deep and are part of the public record. It's not a fantasy nor conspiracy. This shit is real and extends beyond the rich and powerful to all dregs of life including those in the media. The news reports are repleat with child trrafficking arrests sweeping in hundreds of pedophiles and rescuing children. Just take this latest example.

"Disney employees and former judge among 108 arrested in human trafficking sting, Florida police say"

And this is from CBS News not some fringe site. So what’s the reality then in regards to child trafficking?

The US State Department places child trafficking, including forced labor at 3.3 million a year, half of which involve sexual enslavement. Other sources place the estimate around 2 million children yearly with a revenue of $150 billion almost surpassing the drug trade. It is in all 50 states and according to Yahoo Finance, “The United States ranks as one of the worst countries in the world for human trafficking.” The worst offenders being Texas, New York, Florida and California. The average age of a trafficked child is 14.

Given all this, Rolling Stone, The Guardian and Salon can go eat a turd.

So what does one do? No, going to a movie is not going to save a child, but watching it may put a fire in your belly to support the organizations who put their lives on the line to rescue and rehabilitate children and put the predators and traffickers behind bars. One organization I strongly recommend is The Asservo Project run by a man I know named Joseph Sweeney where many of these statistics come from. You can find them here:

Ultimately seeing the film is up to everyone, but let me say this. I would rarely call a film important, but this one is. Drop the politics and help the most vulnerable.

fact or fictionmoviehumanity

About the Creator

Kevin Rolly

Artist working in Los Angeles who creates images from photos, oil paint and gunpowder.

He is writing a novel about the suicide of his brother.


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Comments (17)

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  • slimizzy27 days ago

    Congratulations on your Top Story

  • kamika eleanorabout a month ago

    This was a great review. Convinced me to watch the movie.

  • Cathy holmesabout a month ago

    This is an excellent review. I haven't seen the film myself, and still undecided if I want to.

  • Jazzy Gonçalves about a month ago

    Tim Ballard also heads a couple organizations now that are fighting child trafficking called Operation Underground Railroad and the Nazareth Project. He is a former Navy seal that saw the injustice and took action. I donate the Operation Underground Railroad monthly and it’s a great start, getting informed is also a great start! This was well written!

  • Sarah Glassabout a month ago

    I have yet to see this movie and with every review, like yours, it makes me want to see it more and more. As soon as we're able, my husband and I are going to watch it. We have 3 kids ages 8, 6, and 4. I'll probably be bringing tissues with me. It really is astounding and down right disgusting that there are actual people against this movie, going so far as to paint it out to be some kind of conspiracy. Even more so, these same people make a living off of writing such horrendous articles. Thank you so much for writing such an excellent review. And great title, by the way. It intrigued me to click yours to read. 👍

  • Medjugore2 months ago

    A great movie. 👍

  • Kelly Khoo2 months ago

    Powerful, emotional, vital - Sound of Freedom delivers urgent awareness beautifully.

  • Mack Devlin2 months ago

    Amazing. Thank you for your insight.

  • Tina D'Angelo2 months ago

    Perfectly written about one of the most perfectly made movies I've seen in many years. Less is more- you are so right. Some say that a picture is worth a thousand words. However, silence and darkness make horror live in our minds forever. I was unable to leave my seat for any reason during the film, as I was afraid of missing an important bit of information. I do believe there were many times that I had forgotten to breathe. At the end, everyone, and I mean everyone in the theater stood and applauded, then waited for the special message after the credits. Thank you, thank you for this wonderful review.

  • LJ Pollard 2 months ago

    Excellently written, I appreciate your approach of tackling and dispelling all the hysterical headlines by news organizations

  • Dana Crandell2 months ago

    An outstanding review and a stand well taken, not to mention your spot-on assessment of the media's stand! Very glad to see this as a Top Story!

  • Congratulations on your Top Story 🎉📝🌟👍❤️😉

  • Babs Iverson2 months ago

    Terrific review!!! Spotlighting an issue that needs awareness and action!!! Corruption, politics, and billions of dollars are involved.

  • Very well done. Thank you. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I'm both excited and trepidatious (because it's emotional) about watching it.

  • Naomi Gold2 months ago

    This was a great review. I’m baffled by the controversy surrounding this film, and the insults from so-called journalists. It makes me wonder what’s on their hard drive. Clearly the mainstream media want to keep people in the dark, and don’t want this film watched. I appreciate you tackling this, and sharing info on a legit organization.

  • Heather Lunsford2 months ago

    Thank you for your honest thoughts on this movie. I will not be seeing it, not because of the crazy political coverage it is getting but because movies like that are not good for my mental health due to some of my own childhood experiences. I did not know it was a true story nor did I know how long before all this conspiracy crazy took over the press. Thank you too for sharing facts about a very real problem and offering ways to help. Well done you.

  • Grz Colm2 months ago

    A great review, and sounds like a hard- hitting film! Thanks for sharing.

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