I am not ashamed to say that I cried throughout this entire movie. It’s those who see it and don’t have to at least fight back a few tears who should be ashamed. Indeed, the wildly different reactions provoked by this film reveal a great deal about our ever-deepening cultural divide — and how some of the most vocal and high-profile people on one side are really just downright evil. But you had probably already come to that conclusion.
As everyone knows by now, Sound of Freedom — the film’s title contains no definite article — is the story of Tim Ballard, a special agent for Homeland Security Investigations who sets off on a crusade to rescue children from sex traffickers in Colombia. Central to the plot is Ballard’s search for two children, a missing brother and sister. This part of the tale is fictitious. Critics have made much of the fact that elements in the film are fictionalized — as if they don’t know that all films based on true stories contain embellishment (they do know this, of course).
Here the embellishment is dramatically necessary, for the story of this brother and sister, and their father’s panic and grief on losing them to traffickers, helps ground the film in a specific case, dealing with specific victims with whom we identify and sympathize. It is a brilliant plot device. In fact, it was this element in the film that initially got my waterworks going, after which I just kept on crying, with a few brief respites. Had I known I was going to lose this much fluid, I would have brought an IV bag. Fighters looking to rapidly cut weight should see this film.
I’ve already told you enough about the plot. To say more would just spoil things. The acting is uniformly superb — and this includes the child actors. Jim Caviezel plays Tim Ballard with heroic, messianic intensity. Caviezel is an old hand at this: His last high-profile film role was playing Jesus in The Passion of the Christ. He has said that Tim Ballard is the second-most important role he has ever played. By the way, Caviezel also cries throughout the entire movie, which was gratifying because it meant that no one was going to point at me and laugh.
Cinematically, Sound of Freedom is not a great film in the class of, say, Vertigo or La Dolce Vita (I am tempted to also mention Death in Venice, though I might be accused of deliberate irony — or worse). Nor is the film without flaws. At 131 minutes, it felt overlong — with one too many climaxes. The friends with whom I saw it didn’t agree with me about this, however. They thought there was some corny dialogue — but if there was, I didn’t notice it. Director Alejandro Monteverde isn’t interested in flashy camerawork or trying to be “arty” (as my parents would say): He just wants to tell a riveting, gut-wrenching story that will move you and stay with you always. At this he succeeds.
The film closes with footage of the real Tim Ballard, who is an even more square-jawed, Aryan alpha than Caviezel. And the conclusion also features some astonishing statistics on how many children are believed to now be in sex slavery, and on the dramatic, recent increase in online child pornography. The closing credits also feature a split screen, with Caviezel on one side delivering an impassioned — and, yes, tearful — plea for people to spread the word about the tragedy that is child sex trafficking, and to get their friends to see the film. I left the theater feeling gung-ho about telling my friends to do just that — and texted one of them as soon as I got home. On Monday I’ll start telling the folks at my gym (a receptive audience: it’s a YMCA in the Deep South). You would think that fighting child sex trafficking and supporting Sound of Freedom is something we could all get behind, right?
Wrong. Reviews are “mixed.” Perhaps the most notorious example, of which you may have already heard, is the review that appeared in Rolling Stone, subtly titled “‘Sound of Freedom’ Is a Superhero Movie for Dads With Brainworms,” and subtitled “The QAnon-tinged thriller about child-trafficking is designed to appeal to the conscience of a conspiracy-addled boomer.” The reviewer, one Miles Klee, states that Caviezel “has become a prominent figure on the conspiracist right, giving speeches and interviews in which he hints at an underground holy war between patriots and a sinister legion of evildoers who are harvesting the blood of children.” And he calls this “straight-up QAnon stuff.”
He’s referring to the “adrenochrome” theory, of which my readers have doubtless heard, and in which Caviezel really does believe (and he’s not hinting at it; he says it openly). Admittedly, this is a wild theory and I don’t really know what to think about it. Part of the resistance to the theory, however, is the assumption that no one could be so evil as to harvest the blood of children (said to be most potent and vivifying when the children are terrified).
Au contraire. This is a world in which pharmaceutical companies rigged their opioid “studies” in order to deliberately get millions hooked. This is the world that had Jeffrey Epstein in it. A world in which “democracy” must be “safeguarded” through censorship and the prosecution of opposition candidates. And it’s also a world in which “conspiracy theories” regularly turn out to be quite true.
If I had to bet money, I’d wager that adrenochrome is a real thing. But it’s a theory that’s much older than QAnon. Linking it to QAnon is a straight-up smear. No wonder that others are now repeating the same smear — notably CNN, in a video titled “‘Passion of the Christ’ Star Pushes False QAnon Conspiracy” (note how they always have to tell you what to think right in the title). Another critic writes that “Caviezel made it his business to cynically pander to this conservative religious ‘QAnon’ friendly audience, long before he starred in TV’s ‘Person of Interest,’ which was canceled because he’s just not an interesting, expressive actor person.” (Actually, Person of Interest was voluntarily brought to an end by its producers, after five successful seasons.)
But let’s stick with the Rolling Stone reviewer, who tells us, “Ballard, Caviezel, and others of their ilk had primed the public to accept Sound of Freedom as a documentary rather than delusion by fomenting moral panic for years over this grossly exaggerated ‘epidemic’ of child sex-trafficking.” This is also a line that is being pushed by others — but so far as I know, no one has raised credible issues with the statistics on child trafficking presented in the film. Why would someone want to downplay such a thing?
We get our answer in the next paragraph. Mr. Klee describes the film as
fetishizing the torture of its child victims and lingering over lush preludes to their sexual abuse. At times I had the uncomfortable sense that I might be arrested myself just for sitting through it.
Hmmmmm. That wasn’t my reaction at all. I didn’t see anything fetishistic or “lush” about the depiction either of the children or their abuse. Nor did I suffer from a guilty conscience watching those scenes, and fear I might be hauled off to jail. Methinks Mr. Klee hath confessed too much. He also chides the film for “enforcing stereotypes about trafficking,” and for its “hackneyed white savior narrative.”
Sound of Freedom was actually completed in 2018, but no studio wanted to release it. Finally, a distribution deal was made with the Latin American subsidiary of 20th Century Fox. But then that studio was purchased by the Walt Disney Company, which sat on the film and refused to release it. In the end, the filmmakers bought the distribution rights back from Disney and released Sound of Freedom on July 4. Why would Disney not want this film released? Could it be that Hollywood and their mouthpieces are so opposed to Sound of Freedom because the industry really is rife with pedophiles? I’m prepared to believe this — given that there’s a highly plausible case to be made that pedophiles run the rest of the world.
There are other things going on here, however. Sound of Freedom mentions that the United States is the world’s number one consumer of child pornography, and number one destination for child sex traffickers (it’s surprising to me how unsurprising I found this). Many children are brought into the country from Latin America, just as Sound of Freedom depicts, and this is greatly facilitated by the chaos at our southern border. Liberals correctly perceive that this forms the basis for a highly plausible, emotionally-charged case for sealing our border — one that both Republicans and rank-and-file, not-so-ideological Democrats could get behind. And they realize that Sound of Freedom is an incredibly effective tool that could ignite a nationwide discussion about this. But that cannot be allowed. We can’t let a little thing like child sex slavery slow down the Great Replacement. (Pardon me if that seems “straight-up QAnon.”)
My friends, I don’t know whether I believe in God, but with each passing day I become more and more convinced that there is a Devil.
Which reminds me: Sound of Freedom is also basically a Christian film — or “faith based,” as critics are saying. Caviezel, the one-time Jesus and protégé of Mel Gibson, is famously Catholic, and others involved in the film, both in front of and behind the camera, are believers. The film was distributed by Angel Studios, a company involved in distributing other Christian-themed films, based in heavily-Mormon Provo, Utah (Tim Ballard, incidentally is a Mormon). The marketing campaign for Sound of Freedom was financed through crowdfunding — no doubt with many donations coming from Christians of one denomination or another. (This is a film that unites Catholic and Protestant, including all the different flavors of Protestant.)
The film’s religious elements are handled with restraint. I never found them to be overbearing. But it’s too much religion for Hollywood and liberal journalists, whose loathing for Christianity far exceeds their loathing for pedophilia. Add to this the fact that Sound of Freedom cost a mere $14.5 million, and that it is currently beating Hollywood films costing hundreds of millions of dollars, and in much, much wider release. As I write this, Sound of Freedom is now the number two film in the country, after the new Mission: Impossible tedium. Sound of Freedom is beating the new Indiana Jones movie, even though the latter is showing at 1,748 more domestic theaters!
Could the message be any clearer? Hollywood has produced a string of mega-budget, over-produced, derivative, “woke” bombs — with Disney being hit particularly hard. (Look for Disney’s upcoming Snow White release to bomb big — with its brown-skinned Latina Snow White, and it’s normal-sized black and non-binary “dwarfs.”) What are Americans flocking to instead? A shoestring-budgeted Christian film about a handsome white savior with a beautiful white family fighting against physically repulsive — and mostly non-white — sex perverts. Of course they want to bury Sound of Freedom. But it’s now too big to stop.
The backlash has arrived. And it is only just getting started.
Please see this powerful film today (but bring a box of Kleenex). And tell your friends. Amongst other things, the film’s savvy marketing campaign features a “pay it forward” option allowing you to buy tickets for someone else. They can then claim the tickets online from the distributor’s website and watch the film in a cinema near them. You can access that function, as well as other information on Sound of Freedom, here.
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