Caviezel, best known for his role as Jesus in "The Passion of the Christ," plays former DHS federal agent Tim Ballard in "Sound of Freedom."
One of the summer’s surprise hits, "Freedom" depicts Ballard’s true-life crusade against child-trafficking with financial backing from Angel Studios, which got behind the widely-popular "The Chosen" TV series.
“Our numbers, our screen percentages, have dominated. We’re not in the theatres of a lot of the big studio films, but we’re beating them, we’re competing with them daily,” Caviezel said Wednesday on American Family Radio. “They’re (Angel) model is quite remarkable. They’re not a big aircraft carrier, like a studio movie, but they’re a destroyer, much like a SEAL team, that can turn that ship around really quick.”
Produced by Eduardo Verastegui, "Freedom" has earned more than $85 million on a $14.5 million budget. It finished third on its July 7-9 opening weekend and came in No. 1 in Florida, Texas and Arizona.
Moviegoers who have seen the film say there is a lot to like about "Freedom," even though its depiction of child trafficking is hard to watch, but the film has its detractors, too. Some who also work against child-trafficking that say it presents a Hollywood-like "false perception" that could further harm real victims.
Beyond nitpicking the plot, it appears the film is being criticized by the political Left because it is being praised by the political Right. The reasoning seems to be anything conservatives like must be bad, so liberal film critics and left-wing media outlets are linking "Freedom" with the QAnon conspiracy theorists and their belief in a worldwide, child sex-trafficking ring.
Caviezel has come under fire for his 2021 comments while promoting "Freedom," in which he stated that children are being harvested for adrenochrome, a chemical found in adrenaline.
NPR, in a story criticizing the film, acknowledges eight paragraphs into its own article that "Freedom" was filmed "before QAnon conspiracy theories became a widespread phenomenon."
The missing 85,000
Beyond the criticism and left-wing hatred, Caviezel cites sworn congressional testimony that more than 85,000 children have disappeared after crossing into the U.S. from Mexico.
The New York Times backs him. It reported in February that Health and Human Services makes an effort to contact children one month after they’ve entered the U.S. and are living with sponsors. However, data obtained by the Times “showed that over the last two years the agency could not reach more than 85,000 children.”
“More than 85,000 children have disappeared crossing the border. They’re not in any public schools, any kindergartens or junior highs. They’re gone,” Caviezel told show hosts Tim Wildmon and Ed Vitagliano.
Whatever the repulsive motivation, the National Institutes of Health has confirmed organ harvesting among children and in 2016 called it a growing problem.
“By presenting a global picture of child organ trafficking, this paper emphasizes that child organ trafficking is no longer a myth but a reality which has to be addressed. It argues that the international efforts against organ trafficking and trafficking in human beings for organ removal have failed to address child organ trafficking adequately,” the NIH wrote.
Caviezel says organ harvesting “is another part of this evil (child trafficking) empire. It’s a $152 billion a year business.”
Why Caviezel wanted to be a part
Caviezel said he knows of 19 other actors who didn’t want the role of Tim Ballard.
Caviezel himself was drawn to the role because of the power of the script and the love for children in his heart.
“The script was extremely powerful, especially the line when he goes down to one of the cartel members who says, ‘Why are you doing this?’ and he says, ‘Because God’s children are not for sale.’”
Another part that struck Caviezel was Ballard’s complete disregard for his own personal safety.
“A lot of modern-day Christians...they get to a certain point, and when it’s possibly losing their life to save another, that’s not a part of Christianity they want," the actor said. "This guy Tim Ballard, he does it, and this cartel man asks him, and he tells him, ‘When God tells you to do something, you don’t hesitate.’ There’s a lot of the gospel here.”
The lead actor and the subject of the film also connected on a personal level. Caviezel said their faith life is similar in that Ballard has sacrificed a lot while leaning on his faith, and Caviezel has done the same in an industry where genuine Christian faith is not wanted.
“My faith has cost me a lot in the industry. I had my shoulder dislocated. I was struck by lightning. I had two heart surgeries including open-heart. It’s been quite extensive, the pain, and there’s not a lot of places to go because I’m not a 'happy Jesus' kind of guy,” he said.
Caviezel was incredibly struck by lighting while filming "Passion of the Christ," where he also endured his other injuries during filming of the historic film.