Is Sound of Freedom Based on a True Story?

Directed by Alejandro Monteverde, ‘Sound of Freedom’ is an action movie about a man named Tim Ballard. Initially a Special Agent with US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), he quits his job after rescuing a young boy named Teddy from the clutches of child traffickers. His decision is made after learning that the boy’s sister is still trapped and the official channels might not be enough to execute a swift rescue for her. What follows next is a harrowing journey deep into the Colombian forest with the singular goal of saving an innocent life.

Starring Jim Caviezel, Mira Sorvino, and Bill Camp, the film revolves around real-life horrors involving innocent lives. The action-packed motivating film has been praised by many for addressing problems that people face even today in some areas of the world. The heroism of Ballard is also a motivating factor in the film that makes many people wonder just how the character came to be. Is the movie based on actual events? Well, we are here to explore the same!

Is Sound of Freedom a True Story?

Yes, ‘Sound of Freedom’ is partially based on a true story. As it turns out, the movie closely follows Tim Ballard’s recollections and the work of his organization, Operation Underground Railroad, AKA OUR, which was established in 2013. According to the former Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) agent, he was witness to many horrifying cases of child trafficking during his years in the federal agency, but he apparently often had to curb his principles and inclinations due to the orders he had been given from his superiors.

Ballard revealed that two cases, in particular, motivated him to quit his federal job. The incidents in question were based in Haiti and Colombia, though the movie primarily focuses on the happenings in the latter country. Hence, he and some of his colleagues left HSI to establish OUR with the backing of Glenn Beck. According to the organization, the mission showcased in the film was actually part of “Operation Triple Take,” with three coordinated takedowns within Colombia. That being said, the task in question was the first one that the group had undertaken, as they had previously launched and completed missions in Haiti, Cartagena (a city in Colombia), and the Dominican Republic.

Based on OUR’s records, the characters like Fuego, Vampiro, and Giselle are based on real-life people, with the latter apparently inspired by Kelly Johana Suarez, a former beauty pageant queen and professional model from Cartagena who allegedly uses her fame and resources to traffic children from unsuspecting parents. Additionally, the depiction of child trafficking victims in the movie is something the organization also claims to be true to real life.

In fact, the young boy who motivated Tim to leave HSI is actually based on a real-life boy who did give Ballard a dog tag that he had been given by his sister as a symbol of hope for rescue. This particular incident has apparently kept the OUR Founder focused on his quest to find Gardy, someone that the organization is hopeful about finding one day in the near future. That being said, there are certain aspects of the movie that even OUR admits are actually not factually accurate.

For example, Tim did not go alone into the Colombian jungle as a fake doctor to rescue the little girl. That being said, Ballard apparently led a group of operators undercover as a group of doctors into a jungle located at the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Additionally, unlike his movie counterpart, Ballard did not kill anyone to rescue a child in real life. One crucial aspect that OUR itself has pointed out is that their on-screen depiction of how child trafficking looks is not a completely accurate depiction, and there are many places and ways in which those involved in the world of trafficking execute their plans.

As it turns out, there is a significant reason why Jim Caviezel is the one portraying Ballard. The former HSI agent confessed that he was heavily motivated by the actor’s work in ‘ The Count of Monte Cristo.’ In turn, Caviezel has claimed that the movie is perhaps his most important work, second only to ‘The Passion of the Christ.’ It should be noted that OUR has been surrounded by skepticism throughout its years of existence, with many being concerned about the organization’s lack of transparency when it comes to financial matters.

Additionally, the Justice Department advised ICAC in February 2016 to steer clear of OUR, with the commander of ICAC’s Washington branch emphasizing in an email to local authorities that no official aid should be given to the group. Due to the fact that most of the elements in the movie as primarily based on claims made by Ballard and OUR, it is hard to confirm the truth behind them. Moreover, there are certain aspects of the film that the organization itself has claimed are not accurate. That being said, the formation of OUR and the impact of child trafficking in the contemporary world are indeed true, making ‘Sound of Freedom’ quite close to real life.

Read More: Tim Ballard: Where is Ex-US Special Agent Now?