The film “Sound of Freedom,” which (fittingly enough) opened on the Fourth of July, has, unlike “Insidious” or the latest “Indiana Jones” film, continued to grow in popularity and as of this writing has earned some $85 million at the box office against its $14.6 million budget. In fact, despite scattered reports of certain theaters passive-aggressively bothering filmgoers, more and more theaters have picked up the film and added additional screenings.
Despite the tenuous claims (based on the film’s distributor) that “Sound of Freedom” is a faith-based film, it is a tense thriller based on the exploits of the real Tim Ballard, whom he has been involved with as a federal agent and as part of the group he founded, Operation Underground Railroad. It is well worth seeing for its entertainment value, but also because it sheds much-needed light on the worldwide problem of child sex trafficking, how widespread it is, and how the United States is the No. 1 culprit for consumers of these crimes. In fact, it was the hope of Ballard and the film’s producer Eduardo Verástegui to make a film that would be the modern equivalent of and have the same effect on child sex trafficking as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin had in jumpstarting the drive to end slavery in the United States.
Based on that intention alone, one would think “Sound of Freedom” is a must-see for everyone, regardless of where one is on the political spectrum. Unfortunately, in our polarized zeitgeist, this has not been the case. The legacy media and various left-of-center sites have either been silent or sparing in recommending the film. Some have even attacked the film because of Jim Caviezel’s alleged connections to QAnon conspiracy theories, despite the fact that none of those “theories” are mentioned or even implied in the film.
Certainly, the film takes some creative liberties with Ballard’s story, which is a compilation of the numerous cases he has worked on during his career. But ultimately, all of these conspiratorial takes on “Sound of Freedom” show far more about the preexisting prejudices of those making them than it does about the film’s story. However, the abundance, as well as the tenor and tone, of such takes causes us to ask why? Of all the things to criticize this film for, especially one about a topic that every one of us knows is real and rampant in the modern world, why jump to the conspiratorial path? What is it about “Sound of Freedom” that is making so many people irrationally hate or ignore it?
Aside from the aforementioned QAnon associations some have alleged with Jim Caviezel and Tim Ballard, the most obvious and broadest reason the film is being poorly received is that it’s just a sign of our contentious times. Even in the face of a good movie about a good cause, leftist critics will still be loath to say anything positive about it simply for contrarian reasons. It could also be the usual skepticism by critics for a film that has not been through Hollywood’s rigorous DEI (i.e. woke) development processes. However, in the case of “Sound of Freedom,” there is also their outright bigotry toward anything Christian-related, especially Christian films in general, which are often panned for their mawkish mediocrity.
Another reason for the acrimonious treatment “Sound of Freedom” has received may have to do with its grave subject matter. Not that Hollywood is averse to making movies showing far worse portrays of slavery (sexual or otherwise) as in films like “Schindler’s List” or “Twelve Years a Slave.” These were all historical films where viewers and critics could watch or analyze the film from the comfort and safety of living in a (arguably) more civilized world.
But to watch a film about an egregious problem that’s happening right now may be a bit too much for some. Not just because it is emotionally draining, but because it may tug at the consciences of the viewer in a manner similar to how most modern people think about modern consumer goods. They want the comfort and status that technology brings but don’t want to see or think about the near-slave (and often child) labor or animal cruelty that goes into producing all of the goods that make our modern lifestyles possible.
It is much easier to look at the world, and a film like “Sound of Freedom,” through various ideological “-isms” and “-phobias,” which offer a plausible degree of separation from the evils we are complicit in. This way no moral demands are made on us to actually do something about those evils.
The Meaning (and Truth at the Heart of the Film)
Another reason why “Sound of Freedom” is being upbraided by certain critics is not just the moral aversion they have for the film’s subject matter, but a spiritual one as well. In an interview with Jordan Peterson, Tim Ballard, and Jim Caviezel, Caviezel mentioned he ad-libbed a line in the film. When the pedophile “Ohinsky” is arrested a second time after coming to trust the Ballard character, Ballard says, “Better that a millstone be hung around your neck and you be cast into the sea than you should ever hurt one of these little ones.”
He is referencing Christ’s words from the gospel of Matthew, and as Peterson says in the same interview, it is a fitting image, for it represents a severe punishment for an egregious crime. A crime that is done for a “sadistic and vengeful kick” and out of a “perverse delight” to transgress the most deeply held moral boundaries. It is “the violent sexual abuse of the most innocent possible person.”
Nowhere is this “perverse delight” more evident than in the contemporary libertine mores of Hollywood and much of our contemporary culture. From Harvey Weinstein to Jeffrey Epstein, from pride month to LGBT indoctrination in our schools, our culture is awash in perversity and has (spiritually speaking) become like “Babylon” in the Book of Revelation, “the dwelling place of demons, and the haunt of every foul spirit.”
But we know all this, don’t we? For just as in the case of our guilty attachment to the modern creature comforts mentioned above, our culture has become “comfortably numb” to all of this debauchery and disorder because individuals want complete sexual freedom for themselves, but don’t want to think about the negative fallout that happens to those who abuse those freedoms or are victims of those who do.
And herein lies what is at the heart of all the mockery or aversion to this film. To admit that child sex trafficking is objectively wrong would mean that certain sexual preferences and activities are only subjectively right or permissible. Once you start that conversation, you will be calling all of the sexual and social freedoms acquired over the years into question. In short, if you start talking about the horrors of child sex trafficking and the need to do something about it, you will inadvertently build a solid case for reinstituting traditional sexual mores and building stronger families.
Even if one were to make the assertion that you can fight to end child sex trafficking while still supporting LGBT “rights,” the devil in the details would be in trying to separate the predatory part of perversity, and perversity from mere preference. This is of extreme importance when it comes to children, who are the prime targets of today’s LGBT agenda and who, because of their dependence on adults, will always bear the brunt of their parents’ choices. To falter even a little from setting traditional and objective moral standards for raising healthy kids is to invite into one’s mind a plausible excuse for failure that will by default come to fruition.
In “Sound of Freedom,” we learn that the title comes from the sound of the joy and merriment kids make when their innocence is protected and they are free to be kids. It is a sad testament to our times that there are those who are (morally speaking) willing to allow one child to be trafficked and abused if it means they are free to follow their own debased desires.
Obviously, this film and the real-life exploits of law enforcement and groups like Operation Underground Railroad remind us that such a deal is a deal with the devil, and never worth making. See the film and spread the word, and let’s get the right conversation going about reclaiming our culture.