Oppenheimer, Barbie, and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One are generating all the buzz on the summer movie schedule — and rightfully so. However, a smaller film that continues to impress at the box office is Sound of Freedom. In its fourth weekend, the independent film grossed $19.8 million domestically, bringing its total to $124 million. With a budget of $14.5 million, Sound of Freedom is easily one of the sleeper hits of 2023
From Angel Studios, Sound of Freedom stars Jim Caviezel as Tim Ballard, a former special agent for Homeland Security Investigations who embarks on a mission to find a young girl abducted by child traffickers in the Colombian jungle. The film is based on the true story of Ballard and the creation of the anti-sex-trafficking organization known as Operation Underground Railroad. If you enjoyed Sound of Freedom, you’ll like these five movies, which are about similarly complex and disturbing issues such as human-trafficking and sex crimes.
Of all the movies on this list, David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises is the most violent. Viggo Mortenson stars as Nikolai Luzhin, the ruthless driver and cleaner for Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), who runs the Russian mafia in London. Anna (Naomi Watts) is a Russian-British midwife who delivers a baby for a 14-year-old Russian prostitute who dies in childbirth. Anna recovers the teenager’s diary and learns she was raped and forced into prostitution.
The diary could end Semyon’s reign since it includes incriminating evidence about the sex-trafficking organization. Nikolai is caught in the middle of completing his job for Semyon and protecting Anna. Eastern Promises is not for the faint of heart. However, it does include one of the best fight scenes of the last 30 years.
Stream Eastern Promises on Max.
Good luck stopping Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) in Taken. When his teenage daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), is abducted in Paris by Albanian human traffickers, Bryan, an ex-CIA agent with a very particular set of skills, travels to Europe to track her down. Because of his knowledge of abductions, Bryan deduces that he must find Kim in 96 hours, or she will be sold away and lost forever.
Upon arrival, Mills moves heaven and Earth to find Kim by injuring, torturing, and killing every henchman that gets in his way. Taken resurrected Neeson’s career and turned him into a thrilling action star, a genre he would dominate for the next decade. Marko should have hung up the phone when Bryan said, “I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”
Stream Taken on Starz.
Like Sound of Freedom, The Whistleblower is based on one person’s fight to bring down a human-trafficking organization. Rachel Weisz stars as Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska police officer recruited as a United Nations peacekeeper for a private contractor called Democra Security (based on DynCorp International) in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina.
While working on a case, Kathryn discovers a sex-trafficking ring involving DynCorp employees. To make matters worse, the UN has looked the other way and helped cover it up to protect lucrative defense contracts. Kathryn works to expose the ring, but her life becomes endangered by those working to keep her quiet. The Whistleblower is a maddening view into sex trafficking and the harsh truths of power and corruption.
Stream The Whistleblower on Prime Video.
As Mark Ruffalo’s Michael Rezendes emphatically screams to Michael Keaton’s Walter “Robby” Robinson, “They knew and they let it happen to kids.” This scene in Spotlight is one of the most powerful moments in the film, a true story of a child sex abuse scandal that plagued Boston for decades.
Rezendes and Robinson are part of “Spotlight,” the investigative team at The Boston Globe. The Spotlight team begins investigating the Boston Archdiocese after discovering multiple sexual abuse cases by Catholic priests. They learn that the church then covered up these cases by transferring the priests to different parishes. Spotlight is a gripping display of great journalism and how it gave a voice to the voiceless.
Stream Spotlight on Max.
In Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, the horrors of human trafficking come to the forefront, along with the brutality of PTSD. Joker‘s Joaquin Phoenix plays Joe, a brutal mercenary well-versed in rescuing sex-trafficked girls. Part of Joe’s ruthlessness stems from his violent father and military past, leading to PTSD and suicidal thoughts. Joe is hired by a New York State senator (Alex Manette) to rescue his abducted daughter from a human-trafficking ring.
Joe is given full autonomy to use any methods necessary, with extreme violence encouraged. As Joe dives deeper into the investigation, he uncovers disturbing details of political corruption that will bring out his worst impulses. You Were Never Really Here is a violent, action-packed 90-minute thriller, as well as a haunting and brutal depiction of trauma and the effects it can have on a person.
Stream You Were Never Really Here on Prime Video.
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