Sound of Freedom

image for Sound of Freedom

Short takes

Not suitable under 16; parental guidance to 17 (themes, sexual references, violence, language)

classification logo

This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Sound of Freedom
  • a review of Sound of Freedom completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 25 September 2023.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 16 Not suitable due to themes, sexual references, violence, and language.
Children aged 16–17 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and sexual references.
Children aged 18 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Sound of Freedom
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Themes of child sexual abuse
Length: 131 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Eleven-year-old Rocio (Cristal Aparicio) loves to sing and has a gift for music. Spotted in a Honduran marketplace by a woman claiming to be a talent scout, her father is duped into allowing her and her younger brother Miguel (Lucas Avila) to audition for an ‘agency’. Only, instead of becoming future stars, they become slaves, sold to sex traffickers and taken from their country, along with countless other children. Meanwhile in the United States, Homeland Security Operative Timothy Ballard (Jim Caviezel) has spent the last ten years of his career targeting paedophiles and attempting to put them away. When his latest operation leads him to Miguel, he learns firsthand of the child’s ordeal and in the process of earning the boys’ trust he forges an unbreakable bond. Miguel begs Timothy to help him save his sister. There is a power behind the trusting plea of this child, and an intuitive force that Timothy cannot deny, one that leads him to the streets of Colombia where he is determined to do all he can to find Rocio. With the invaluable help of Jorge (Javier Godino) a Colombian officer, Vampiro (Bill Camp) a former criminal, and a vigilante, real estate, millionaire called Pablo (Eduardo Verastegui), Timothy devises a plan that will lure in the traffickers and allow his team to free over 50 children at once. The operation is a success. The traffickers are arrested and numerous children are saved. But Rocio isn’t one of them. When one of the traffickers finally talks, Timothy learns that Rocio has been sold to guerilla warriors, deep inside the Colombian jungle. She has been taken to a zone where neither the military nor the police will venture. Risking their lives, Vampiro and Timothy pose as international doctors visiting the region to administer vaccines while looking for victims of a supposed cholera outbreak. The rebels separate the pair and it is Timothy who is taken to their camp and who sets out to find the child he is destined to save. Against every possible odds, he encounters Rocio and manages to free her from the ruthless men holding her captive. Together they face a harrowing escape through the dense Colombian jungle and eventually Timothy is able to reunite Rocio with her father and with the little brother who wouldn’t rest until she was safely home.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Strong themes of child sexual abuse; Crime; Abduction; Children separated from parents and siblings; Children as victims.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • A paedophile is knocked off his chair and slammed onto the floor as agents storm his house.
  • There are images of children being held prisoner by men.
  • Paedophiles are shown filming themselves with children. Nothing sexual is actually shown but horrific situations are reflected in the eyes and tears of the officers watching the recordings.
  • Children are roughly transferred from a van into a shipping container. Rocio is thrown and threatened with a beating. She is later nearly knocked unconscious.
  • Miguel is told by the paedophile that bought him that if he doesn’t do what he is told then, “the bad men will find out and they will kill your sister”.
  • Rocio is forced to have a tattoo. She is shown silently crying while a callous man continues to work on the back of her neck.
  • Vampiro tells Timothy about how he almost killed himself with a bullet to the head, but instead found his calling in rescuing children from sex traffickers.
  • A man points a gun at Timothy’s head when he tries to intervene and stop a paedophile from going off with one of the children.
  • A photo of a dead body is shown.
  • Images and video footage of abductions are played briefly.
  • Armed men shoot at Timothy and Vampiro. They shout, roughly go through their things and hold them at gunpoint.
  • Timothy fights a guerrilla boss to save Rocio. The man attacks with a knife and Rocio tries to keep her eyes shut tight while the sounds of the fight take place. She occasionally opens them to catch glimpses of what is happening. In the end, Timothy manages to strangle the man to death. He puts the body on the bed and the two begin their escape.
  • A guerrilla warrior tries to shoot Timothy and Rocio as they make their way downriver in a boat.
  • Timothy and Rocio get into a car with Vampiro and Jorge who are waiting for them. They dodge bullets all the way through town until they are out of the jungle area. Timothy tries to protect Rocio as the car windows are shattered.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Some of the scenes mentioned below may upset children in this age group.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Rocio, Miguel and numerous other children are forced into a shipping container and locked in the dark as they cry and scream for help. The children are clearly terrified as they pound on the container, sobbing.
  • The children are at sea for days before the container is opened. Brutal men have already brought a buyer to the scene and Miguel is ripped from his sister’s arms as they both scream for, and try to cling to, each other. Rocio is violently knocked to the ground and her hearing goes funny as she lays, semi-conscious of what is happening and powerless to prevent her brother from being taken.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • The scenes where Rocio is about to be sexually assaulted are likely to be distressing for many viewers. Nothing explicit is ever shown but the sleaziness of the men and the pure terror on Rocio’s face, coupled with the implications of what is about to happen, is likely to be upsetting for many children, as could the bathtub scene in which she is shown after she has been sexually assaulted.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • Many children over the age of thirteen are also likely to be distressed by the scenes mentioned above.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Erol Viper 4.5 gun.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • A paedophile uploads images of children for sale, calling them his, “spring sample”.
  • A paedophile tells Timothy that Miguel (aka Osito Teddy) will belong to him for the weekend.
  • Timothy threatens a paedophile, saying that if he doesn’t tell him what he needs to know that he (the paedophile) will be extradited back to Colombia where he will be imprisoned, raped every day and have his balls cut off.
  • It is mentioned that some children are sold 5 or 6 times a night and that this goes on for years.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Children are being groomed in a photoshoot to appear more sexy and alluring. Their shirts are unbuttoned, their hair shaken out to look wild, lipstick is applied, and they are encouraged to strike seductive poses.
  • After examining Miguel, a nurse confirms to Timothy that Miguel has lacerations consistent with sexual abuse.
  • A drunk man enters a room and looks at Rocio who is pressed up against the corner of the bed trying to make herself as small as possible. She looks absolutely terrified as the man places his alcohol near her and then goes to close the curtains. She is shown a short while later, sitting in a bathtub, brokenly humming a song, and quietly crying.
  • Many random females are shown in short skirts or tops and generally revealing clothing, especially in certain areas of Colombia.
  • There is reference made to a ‘sex club’ in Thailand that was open 24/7 and that held hundreds of kids.
  • Vampiro admits to unknowingly having sex with an underage prostitute who was 14 at the time, even though he believed her to be over 20. He later learned that she had been ‘turning tricks’ since she was six.
  • A guerrilla boss starts to take off his pants after laying Rocio down on his bed. Rocio is terrified but Timothy intervenes before anything can happen.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A paedophile drinks alcohol on a plane.
  • A drunk man enters a room with a bottle of alcohol in one hand and a glass of the drink in the other, he moves slowly towards the bed while Rocio cowers in fear.
  • Timothy and others drink at a club.
  • Timothy, his team, a bunch of paedophiles and sex traffickers toast their new venture with champagne and wine.
  • Vampiro admits to selling and using drugs, specifically cocaine.
  • Wine is thrown in Timothy’s face.
  • Rebel warriors drink around a campfire. Some men appear drunk.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Shit
  • Asshole
  • Cabron (Spanish word for Bastard)
  • Damn
  • Ass
  • Hell.

In a nutshell

Sound of Freedom is a biographical drama based on the heroic, true story of Miguel and Rocio Aguilar and the former agent who ventured into the darkest recesses of Hell in order to save them. Sound of Freedom shines a light onto a topic that most would not like to think about, let alone discuss but it is a topic that cannot be ignored. The film is heartbreaking in the extreme and includes some actual footage of real-life abductions. The cinematography is poignant and the acting will haunt you because it seems so real. Whilst predominantly in English, subtitles accompany the Spanish-speaking scenes. This is not a film for children but one that should be watched by everyone from older teens to the elderly. Its message is clear: children are not for sale. In a world where, globally, child pornography is on the rise and where nearly 2 million children a year are being sucked into a nightmare there is no waking up from, in a world where there are now more slaves than when slavery was legal and where human trafficking is set to surpass the illegal drug trade, this is a film we cannot ignore. It is a film we must watch and a story we must share.

The main messages from this movie are that as long as there is life there is hope; that stories have incredible power; that (potentially) the heroic tale of a little brother and sister who worked together to save each other can wield more power than all the cartel bosses combined; and that, once again, children are not for sale.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Resilience
  • Hope
  • Courage
  • Persistence
  • Teamwork.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the importance of safety protocols; of what to do if you feel you or others are at risk; and being wary of those who promise things that seem too good to be true. It is important to note that child trafficking is not just something that happens in Colombia, it is a global atrocity which is happening on everyone’s doorstep.