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Sound of Freedom and Other Films

Copyright © 2024 by Ari Armstrong
January 6, 2024

Sound of Freedom

On its own terms, Sound of Freedom is a good film, about a man who gathers a team to bring down people who abduct children and sell them into sex slavery. It is a rough film to watch for obvious reasons, although the focus is on the action of the good guys.

The film has an obvious Christian theme. A key line from the film is, "God's children are not for sale." The film clearly considers all children "God's children." And one of the protagonists talks about how he turned from his evil ways through a religious conversion experience. This is all fine and not overwrought.

At the end, the film rightly points out that slavery remains a serious problem in our world and that this includes sexual trafficking of children. But the film seems to conflate the narrower category with the broader one. According to, "49.6 million people live in modern slavery," and "6.3 million [all ages] are in commercial sexual exploitation." Both problems are profoundly important. One of the most important things governments can do is root out slavery in all its forms. Sexual exploitation of children is a particularly horrific crime. Obviously.

We should consider the cultural backdrop. A lot of conspiracy mongering in our culture pertains to bogus allegations of child abuse; see Pizzagate. Such conspiracy mongering distracts from real problems.

Unfortunately, the film has ties to QAnon conspiracy mongering. The Washington Post reports:

[T]he film's star, [Jim] Caviezel, has openly embraced the extreme [QAnon] movement, suggesting at media events that a shadowy international cabal is kidnapping children to consume their organs. . . . The actor appeared at a QAnon convention in Las Vegas in October 2021.

He has focused on one QAnon belief in particular while promoting "Sound of Freedom": the idea that child traffickers drain children’s blood to harvest a life-giving substance called adrenochrome.

We can also consider what the film does not discuss. Also important are cases of sexual abuse of children within religious organizations; see cases involving the Catholic Church and Southern Baptist churches (among others).

Regardless, Sound of Freedom is a good and culturally important film. It is also a commercial success, earning a quarter-billion dollars on a budget of $15 million. According to Box Office Mojo it's the tenth biggest earner of the year.

Other Films

TMNT: The new animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, Mutant Mayhem, is surprisingly strong. Interestingly, the actor Seth Rogen played a major role in developing the film. What sets this apart from most super hero films and makes it the best of the TMNT batch is that it develops and follows through on an important theme. Spoiler alert: The film seeks to answer the question of how one should respond to being an outcast. Different characters come up with different answers. Initially, the turtles' guardian, Splinter, responds by isolating himself and the turtles from the hostile outside world. The turtles, on the other hand, along with their human friend April O'Neil, want to overcome their outcast status by doing something to impress the broader society and win others' favor. Superfly responds by seeking to destroy all humans so that the outcasts can have the world to themselves (he has a lot in common with another mutant, Magneto). The turtles find that none of those three strategies is the right one. As a Rand fan, I saw some thematic similarities to The Fountainhead; I have no idea whether the film's creators read or like that work.

Indiana Jones: I was very wary of the new Indiana Jones film, Dial of Destiny, but I quite liked it. It's a chaotic mess, sure. But Phoebe Waller-Bridge carries the film, escaping the overworked "cash is queen to do the right thing" arc. She is mesmerizing. I'm going to check out her Fleabag. I thought the time-travel aspect of the story would be completely ridiculous, but it's clever. (Okay, you have to look past a gigantic stroke of luck, but that's the case with most scenes of the franchise.) The villain is underdeveloped but basically believable as a bad guy. Generally, I wish the film had invested more in character development and less in chase scenes. Still, this is the best of the bunch, or perhaps tied with the first film.

The Creator: I enjoyed The Creator as an actor-driven action film, but as a film about AI I did not find it interesting. Basically it portrays robots as human-like, except basically decent, unlike the worst humans. The film could have substituted some oppressed group of humans for the robots with little change to the story. Visually the film is cool.

Wall-E: I rewatched the 2008 Pixar film Wall-E. The premise is stupid; people create so much trash that the Earth becomes uninhabitable. (We can take the film as broadly pro-conservation.) But as a story of friendship or love between two robots, it's a remarkably good film. In terms of AI, what's notable is that robots drive the action as both the villains and the main heroes (although the human captain of the space ship that is home of many other humans also plays a big role).

Equalizer 3: The Denzel Washington film is a solid addition to the "Robin Hood" type of story. The basic idea, of a vigilante seeking justice in an unjust world, also shows up in such stories as Zorro, Batman, the A-Team, the Bill Bixby-led Incredible Hulk, the David Carradine-led Kung Fu, and, now, Jack Reacher. And Amazon's second season of Reacher is very good.

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