SOUND OF FREEDOM (2023)
SYNOPSIS: Sound of Freedom is a true story film that exposes the darkness of child trafficking. A federal agent saves a boy from traffickers, but his sister is still captive. He embarks on a dangerous mission, risking his life to free her from a fate worse than death.
If not for the countless controversies surrounding the release of Sound of Freedom, you probably won’t hear a bleep about the title or even remember you have caught it. However, this is not to say it’s a bad movie. On the contrary, it’s a decently well-made crime drama with good intentions.
Playing out more liked a higher budgeted episode of Singapore’s beloved Crimewatch, Sound of Freedom tells the story of real-life special agent with the Homeland Security, Tim Ballard (Jim Caviezel), who specialised in arresting those criminals who dabbled and distributing child pornography. In a desperate attempt to rescue a pair of brother and sister, Tim decides to travel down to Columbia to take down a child trafficking ring and even resort to disguising as an UN doctor to infiltrate a rebel army camp deep in the jungle.
For a typical Hollywood action movie, Tim’s exploits are more than plausible. Think early Arnold Schwarzenegger and Stallone’s action flicks. The thing is the narrative is based on anti-trafficking activist and campaigner Tim Ballard’s stories so it seems overly exaggerated and dramatic for a single unarmed man to make it out alive in an heavily-armed camp.
Still, you might want to forgive director and co-writer Alexjandro Monteverde despite Ballard’s questionable heroic deeds. At least, the movie works tremendously well in delivering and shining a spotlight on the treacherous crimes of paedophiles worldwide. For the most part, Monteverde manages to convey the message and tone without resorting to lurid visuals or excessive violence. Even a fight between Ballard and a rebel leader in the finale is played down to the minimum.
Caviezel has been a reliable actor since his early screen days though his acting career has been side-lined due to his controversial political views and statements. The role of Tim Ballard fits him to a T as he no doubt delivers a nuanced performance as the dedicated lawman who strives to rescue children from human trafficking rings.
It doesn’t really takes away the true meaning of the crime drama despite all the conspiracy theories on QAnon and Ballard’s non-profit organization, O.U.R because in Ballard’s own words, “God’s children are not for sale”. Strictly speaking except for a little creative plot mechanics, Sound of Freedom is mostly a grounded crime drama that steers away from fancy CGI explosions and gunshots. It’s not the most sensational or must-see movie of the year yet certainly deserved a single watch.
Review by Linus Tee