I still remember 2004 when “The Passion of the Christ” burst upon our social consciousness, spurring animated discussions among Christians and non-Christians alike.
It marked a moment when the whole nation seemed to pause and ponder who Jesus was and what he had done.
Almost twenty years later, “Sound of Freedom” promises to do something similar – only this time, it invites us not to consider a historical fact, but to fight a modern-day evil: human trafficking.
Moviegoers can expect a roller-coaster ride of action and suspense from start to finish, drawing its emotional intensity from real-life events.
Just like “Passion,” the faith-based film also stars Jim Caviezel – not as Jesus, but as Tim Ballard.
In his job at the Department of Homeland Security, Ballard helps rescue a boy, Miguel, who was kidnapped along with his older sister, Rocio, by traffickers in Honduras. Miguel begs Ballard to save Rocio, who is still held captive.
Thus begins a quest that wrenches Ballard out of his government job – hamstrung by bureaucracies that will not bankroll an international, prolonged rescue operation – and into some of the most remote, unpoliced areas in Colombia.
The movie shows documentary-style footage near the end, showing the real Ballard testifying before Congress and helping increase cooperation among international law enforcement against trafficking.
That Ballard also founded Operation Underground Railroad, a nonprofit to help children escape from the sex industry.
‘The most powerful person in the world’
The movie is rated PG-13 because of its heavy subject matter, which includes sexual and drug references, violence and language.
Parents should exercise discretion in determining whether their children are mature enough to handle the intense emotional reactions this movie is likely to cause. But parents are also uniquely equipped to help their children process and understand weighty topics such as these.
In an unusual cameo appearance, Caviezel speaks directly to audiences two minutes after the credits begin. He explains how the movie was ready to release five years ago, but it had to overcome many obstacles before it could be distributed in theaters.
“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller,” Caviezel says, quoting the late co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs.
Just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin roused public opposition to 18th-century slavery, this movie can provide the awareness needed to end child trafficking, Caviezel says.
Caviezel ends by urging moviegoers to share the film with others, and at least a few of them must have been listening. Pre-sales for “Freedom” had surpassed the $10 million mark before its July 4 theatrical release, according to its distributor, Angel Studios.
In the movie, we learn the United States is the top destination for human traffickers working a diabolic business that ensnares an estimated 2 million children each year.
But as “Freedom” so powerfully demonstrates, our nation can also work together to end this heinous form of modern-day slavery.
In a society wracked by divisiveness and apathy, this movie may once again follow “Passion” by offering the opportunity – and challenge – to spark conversations worth having.