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  • Caitlyn Burge-Surles

Critics Mourn "The Sound of Freedom": "They'll Want to Spread the Word."

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Jim Caviezel in Sound of Freedom. Photograph: Angel Studios


The Sound of Freedom, a box office record-setting film about the prevalence of child trafficking, has been heavily criticized by mainstream media film critics following its July 4 release.


The film, which opened in 2,626 theaters across the nation, is projecting a cumulative $85 million in revenue by this Sunday. The Sound of Freedom has already gained $27 million in revenue by its second weekend in theaters, breaking box office records for second-weekend increases and surpassing its own “pay it forward” ticket sharing goal by more than 6,400,000 tickets.


However, film critics across the mainstream media have voiced various complaints about the cultural ramifications of The Sound of Freedom, ranging from dismissals of opening week numbers to outright mockery of its audiences and regret that the topic of human trafficking will be established in the national conversation.


The Guardian’s Charles Bramesco bitterly dismissed the former box office successes compared to the recent fifth installment of Indiana Jones claiming that “these figures require selective, almost willfully misleading framing to allow for the David-and-Goliath narrative trumpeted by supporters.” The article continues to admit that Sound of Freedom has over-delivered on expectations in dollars and cents, a feat of profitability uncommon for a comparatively low-budget production without a major Hollywood-led promotional campaign.” Bramesco concludes that perhaps audiences were more eager for the viewing of The Sound of Freedom than may have been anticipated: “Judging by the robust round of applause that concluded the fully-seated screening I attended on Wednesday evening – and this, in the liberal Sodom of Manhattan! – it would seem that the folks at the two-year-old Angel Studios have tapped into a substantial and eagerly marshaled viewership.”


BBC quoted author Mike Rothschild as saying "Trafficking is real but films like this obscure the real issue." However, the president of Angel Studios Jordan Harmon asserted that "Anyone who has seen this movie knows it has nothing to do with conspiracy theories." The QAnon conspiracy theories that mainstream media reporters equate to The Sound of Freedom mostly center around American elites preying upon American children. Most of the events in The Sound of Freedom, however, occur overseas with non-American children and traffickers – traffickers that pay for sexual favors and labor, not mystical life-giving bodily fluids.


Perhaps most notorious in the days following the release of The Sound of Freedom was Rolling Stone’s scathing review that did not hesitate to brand the film “The QAnon-tinged thriller about child-trafficking is designed to appeal to the conscience of a conspiracy-addled boomer.”


Article author Miles Klee pondered why America’s suffering masses would bother themselves with the “sordid fantasies about godless monsters hurting children.” This “fantasy” has greatly affected the nearly 1.2 million children the International Labor Office estimates are trafficked each year – and in fact, ILO states that “All statistics probably underestimate the true size of the problem because they represent only those cases that come to light.” USA Today used a 2016 study by the Center for Court Innovation to determine that children are purchased for sexual acts 2.5 million times a year in America alone. FBI Director Christopher Wray announced in an FBI press release from 2022 that “such crimes—against both adults and children—are far more common than most people realize.”



However, Klee did not allow these statistics to prevent him from bemoaning the after-effects of the film: “To know thousands of adults will absorb The Sound of Freedom, this vigilante fever dream, and come away thinking themselves better informed on a hidden civilizational crisis… well, it’s profoundly depressing. Worse still, they’ll want to spread the word.”


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