Sound of Freedom (AU - M/UK - 15/US - PG-13)

In a Word: Intense

Sound of Freedom2

Jim Caviezel stars as Tim Ballard in 'Sound of Freedom'. PICTURE: Supplied.

This is not a film for the faint-hearted but a confronting glimpse into part of an evil trade that impacts millions of children around the world today and the efforts that are being taken to bring it down.

Sound of Freedom, based on a true story, tells the story of Tim Ballard, an agent with the US Department of Homeland Security whose job sees him pursuing paedophiles in the US who are sharing sexual images and videos of children. An encounter with one such man leads him to rescue an eight-year-old Honduran boy who has been trafficked into the US but he soon learns the boy's sister, taken by the same traffickers, is still missing in Colombia.

"The fim has been the subject of considerable controversy since its release in the US in early July including over the way it portrays the issue of human trafficking. But there's no sign of that in the film itself which director Alejandro Monteverde plays out as a pacy thriller. "

Unable to forget about her and facing growing concerns among his superiors (he eventually leaves the department), Ballard then embarks on a relentless mission into South America to find and rescue her. As he says at one point: "This job tears you to pieces and this is my one chance to put those pieces back together."

The film has been the subject of considerable controversy for various reasons since its release in the US in early July - including over the way it portrays the issue of human trafficking - but director Alejandro Monteverde essentially steers it into being a pacy thriller which focuses on one story as it addresses the broader issues of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking. 

Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) puts in a reasonably convincing performance as Ballard and he's well-supported by Bill Camp who plays 'Vampiro', a former cartel member who helps Ballard in his quest (and the only other character we really get to know anything about - Mira Sorvino plays his wife Katherine but doesn't really get enough screen time to develop the role).

While Ballard's Christian faith is present at points, there's little overt mention of it and it's certainly not the focus of the film - this is an action-driven movie with little time for dwelling on character motivations. There are some moments which stretch credulity and some which, if they do depict true events, certainly raise some ethical questions.

It would have been good to see more of Ballard's backstory, not just Ballard the agent on a mission (although hang around and just before the credits start to roll you'll see some images of the real people depicted) - but it's the action which wins the day in Sound of Freedom.

And while the focus on keeping the story moving does detract from the end result, the film does shed light on the existence of an evil trade in children that is so often hidden around the world. It will be an eye-opener for some.