Sound of Freedom – need to know

From its controversy to its Rotten Tomatoes rating, some key facts and figures about the film Sound of Freedom.

What is Sound of Freedom?

As per IMDB: Sound of Freedom is the ‘incredible true story of a former government agent turned vigilante who embarks on a dangerous mission to rescue hundreds of children from sex traffickers.’

Is Sound of Freedom based on real events?

According to Variety:

Sound of Freedom is based on the true story of Tim Ballard, a former US government agent that quits his job to rescue children from global sex traffickers. Ballard, a federal agent, finds himself losing hope in the dark field of children crime work. However, Ballard quickly uncovers his life mission when he’s able to free a seven-year-old boy that was kidnapped. When the young boy asks Ballard to find his sister who was also kidnapped, Ballard decides to devote his life to rescuing children from sex slavery.


History Vs Hollywood has an article comparing the deeds of the real-life Tim Ballard with the character as shown in the film.

Who stars in Sound of Freedom?

Jim Caviezel, Mira Sorvino and Bill Camp.

Who directs Sound of Freedom?

Alejandro Monteverde. Monteverde, who also directed Little Boy (2015) and Bella (2006), wrote the screenplay with screenwriter Rod Barr.

Show me the Sound of Freedom trailer

What’s Mel Gibson’s connection with Sound of Freedom?

Gibson directed Caviezel (as Jesus) in The Passion of the Christ (2004). As reported on the website Dexerto:

Mel Gibson shared a video in which he urged people to go and see the film [Sound of Freedom]. ‘One of the most disturbing problems in our world today is human trafficking, and particularly the trafficking of children,’ he said. ‘Now, the first step in eradicating this crime is awareness … go see Sound of Freedom.’


Do critics like Sound of Freedom?

On Rotten Tomatoes, Sound of Freedom currently has a 61% approval rating from critics and a whopping 99% audience approval rating, from ‘10,000+ Verified Ratings’).

David Stratton, in The Australian, gave it a 3.5/ 5 rating, writing that:

It’s worth a look because it’s a well-made example of a thriller inspired by unspeakable crimes that are being committed the world over.

The Australian

Peter Bradshaw, in The Guardian, gave Sound of Freedom one star, writing that:

All decent people share a fundamental horror and outrage at child sexual abuse. But not everyone will share Caviezel’s QAnon-type belief that child sex trafficking is run by elites who want to harvest the hormone adrenochrome from children, as Caviezel himself said at a recent conference.

The Guardian

Why is Sound of Freedom controversial?

TIME Magazine recently ran an article on the film and how it became the ‘surprise box office hit of the summer‘, outperforming Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. In that article, Megan McCluskey stated that:

Sound of Freedom itself has also been criticised by anti-trafficking experts for providing a ‘false perception‘ of child trafficking and promoting ‘rescue’ tactics that may actually put real victims in danger.


GQ also ran an article recently ‘unpacking’ the controversy around the film.

Sound of Freedom. Image: Angel Studios.

What happened with the Sound of Freedom film rights?

As explained on SBS News:

Sound of Freedom was independently filmed in 2018, on a budget of about US$14.5m ($22.5m), but was delayed when its distributor, 21st Century Fox, was bought by Disney in 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the delay, and then in 2023, distribution rights were acquired by Angel Studios.

SBS News

Brian Welk, on IndieWire, provided more context:

After Fox’s merger with Disney in 2019, producer Eduardo Verástegui bought back the film’s rights and shopped it around before eventually landing at Angel Studios. As to why the film never got off the ground at Disney, a Disney spokesperson said the studios division at Disney had no knowledge of the film given its pre-merger status as an international acquisition.


What does ‘pay it forward’ mean with Sound of Freedom?

Angel Studios – whose mission involves ‘building a home for stories that amplify light’ – mounted a pay-it-forward campaign for Sound of Freedom, explaining that:

When you Pay it Forward to Sound of Freedom, you are covering the cost of actual movie tickets for someone who would not otherwise be able to see the film. 

Angel Studios

Jared Geesey, Angel Studios senior VP of global distribution, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, responded to claims that the high box-office takings for the film were the result of people buying pay-it-forward tickets.

Geesey declined to say how many fall in the donated category except to suggest it isn’t an overwhelming number. ‘The vast majority of tickets are being bought by human, everyday people in a normal purchase flow,’ Geesey tells THR. ‘We do not break out Pay It Forward tickets versus regular tickets because they’re the same thing. A ticket is a ticket, whether you paid for it or someone else paid for it.’

The Hollywood Reporter

Is Sound of Freedom a ‘faith-based’ movie?

Some say yes, some say no. The BBC recently said the following:

What’s less clear, though, as evidenced by the conversations happening around the film, is what the film’s unique selling point, which has made it the summer’s surprise hit, really is. Is it a truly Christian/faith-based movie or not? Is it a thriller simply highlighting an all-too-important and harrowing global issue, or one implicitly aligning itself with popular conspiracy theories? Its ambiguity in these respects may have worked in its favour at the box office – though what its impact may be on the film industry longer-term is another matter altogether.


Where and when can I watch Sound of Freedom?

Sound of Freedom is in Australian cinemas now.

Read more ‘need to know’ articles on ScreenHub

Paul Dalgarno is author of the novels A Country of Eternal Light (2023) and Poly (2020); the memoir And You May Find Yourself (2015); and the creative non-fiction book Prudish Nation (2023). He was formerly Deputy Editor of The Conversation and joined ScreenHub as Managing Editor in 2022. X: @pauldalgarno. Insta: @dalgarnowrites