Sound of Freedom

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Angel Studios;
Drama;
Box Office $184.18 million;
$29.96 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for thematic content involving sex trafficking, violence, language, sexual references, some drug references and smoking throughout.
Stars Jim Caviezel, Mira Sorvino, Bill Camp, Javier Godino, Jose Zuñiga, Cristal Aparicio, Lucás Ávila, Yessica Borroto, Manny Perez, Eduardo Verástegui.

A surprise box office success over the summer, Sound of Freedom curried a bit of controversy over its subject matter and unconventional release strategy.

Inspired by actual events, the film tackles the uncomfortable subject of child sex slavery, and one man’s personal crusade to fight back against the trade.

Jim Caviezel stars as Tim Ballard, a homeland security agent whose job tracking down pedophiles and sex traffickers on U.S. soil with little hope of recovering the children involved wears down his soul. With his latest arrest, he’s given some leeway to pursue a lead that results in the recovery of Miguel, a boy who at the beginning of the film is shown being kidnapped with his sister by a bogus talent scout in Honduras whose agency is a front for slavers.

After meeting Miguel’s father, Ballard becomes determined to recover the girl as well. To do that, he must go undercover in Colombia. When his bureaucratic bosses deem this mission too risky to sanction, Ballard resigns and pursues his own operation with the help of some local allies to set up an island paradise for child predators, luring the cartels into selling him as many kidnapped children as he can.

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Following years of development, Sound of Freedom was slated for release by Fox until its studio assets were acquired by Disney, which decided to shelve it. The filmmakers purchased the rights back and forged a new distribution agreement with crowdfunding specialist Angel Studios, a company whose commitment to wholesome family entertainment has led to its association with a number of faith-based projects, including the TV series “The Chosen” about the life of Jesus.

By using a unique “pay it forward” system of donations that gifted tickets to faith-based audiences who were encouraged to see it, Sound of Freedom found itself at odds with the sensibilities of traditional Hollywood. This resulted in the film being subjected to any number of criticisms that seemed more aimed at the political inclinations of the filmmakers than the merits of the film itself, most of which aren’t worth getting into here.

One would be hard-pressed to label Sound of Freedom as faith-based per se. Though Ballard’s motivating message is that “God’s children are not for sale,” any overt spirituality is kept to a minimum. The story could be likened to a sex slave version of the last half of Argo, minus the humor. Caviezel’s performance is deadly serious, delivered behind the searing eyes of a man pushed to the brink of tolerating the world’s injustices.

The film itself is a competently made crime thriller, though the storytelling is a bit simplistic in depicting the various characters maneuvering through the differing phases of their mission. Mira Sorvino plays Ballard’s wife, who is credited with inspiring the real Ballard to do all he can for the cause, but she’s given just enough screen time to establish Ballard as a dedicated family man who can’t bear the weight of seeing another family suffer from his inaction. The film takes an optimistic approach to its protagonist’s actions, and viewers looking for an emotionally satisfying cinematic experience will likely be rewarded.

The Blu-ray contains no bonus materials aside from the film’s trailer and promos for other Angel Studios content. The combo pack, facilitated by Lionsgate, contains access to a digital copy of the film.

Gravitas to Release Romantic Comedy ‘Most Guys Are Losers’ Via On Demand July 1

Gravitas Ventures has acquired worldwide rights to distribute Most Guys Are Losers and will release the film in theaters and on demand on July 1.

Written and directed by Eric Ustian, the romantic comedy stars Andy Buckley, Keith David, Mira Sorvino, Grace Fulton, Paul Sorvino and Belmont Camelli. 

In the film, over Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago, a college kid from California seeks approval from his girlfriend’s dad, a bar owner and author of a dating book titled Most Guys Are Losers.

Most Guys Are Losers is a classic romantic comedy that fans of the genre are sure to love. Gravitas is thrilled to be able to share it with audiences this summer,” said  Brett Rogalsky, Gravitas Ventures manager of acquisitions, in a statement.

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“To work with the Oscar Winner Mira Sorvino and her dad, Paul, was an honor,” Ustian said in a statement. “Andy Buckley combines the comedic timing from his role in ‘The Office,’ with a heartfelt and nuanced performance. Thank you to the ensemble cast that includes the iconic Keith David, along with young rising stars Grace Fulton, Belmont Camile and Michael Provost. When you work with actors with such experience and talent, it is a joy to be on set, and it transcends to our heartwarming film.”

Richard Dreyfuss Film ‘Crime Story’ Available for Rental Aug. 13 From Saban and Paramount

Crime Story, starring Academy Award winners Richard Dreyfuss (The Goodbye Girl, Jaws) and Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite, Mimic), will open in select theaters and for digital rental Aug. 13 from Saban Films and Paramount Home Entertainment.

In the film, a man suffering from cancer seeks revenge on the thieves who have destroyed his life.

When ex-mob boss Ben Myers (Dreyfuss) is targeted in a home robbery, he goes on a deadly rampage of vengeance. But with his family caught in the cross hairs, Myers must finally face the consequences of his dark past in this action-packed crime thriller.

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