by Kathleen Bryant, RSC
Priceless is a suspense driven film raising a critical issue facing the world today. An ordinary man going about his own human struggles to be a good person is confronted with a choice, which transforms his life at quite a cost. Early on in the film, James, the lead character played by Joel Smallbone, would rather not ask questions or know what “cargo” he is delivering. The film raises an important question for most of us who would rather not know who is making the products we purchase or under what conditions. Human trafficking, both foreign and domestic, impacts every one of us. The film lifts up, not only the trafficking of two young women from Mexico, but includes the story of a young American girl who was also groomed and trafficked.
We watch James moving from his struggle to make easy money with ignorant compliance to a person who is moved to take action. In his efforts to free others, he is redeemed himself. The pull to be with his own daughter is also redeemed in the end. The elderly wise man in the film prods him on to listen “to that little voice and recognize the larger hand at play.” Although faith is thematic in the film, it is gracefully woven into the dialogue sparingly and not overtly preachy. It shows the price we pay for standing up to injustice in the world.
Ironically it is the victim, Antonia, played by Bianca Santos, who humanizes James and keeps reminding him that he is “a good man”. She is a victim of debt bondage and we are reminded that each human being is “priceless”.
A cautionary note, this story glorifies attempts to rescue victims when the wisdom of those fighting this crime, including the FBI, advise people never to rescue others. Carefully planned rescues by law enforcement have been jeopardized by these attempts. Don’t try this yourself at home! But do try to listen to that “little voice” calling us to be aware of human trafficking and our own compliance as we purchase slave produced goods, neglect to pay fair wages or buy sex.
Although the film moves very slowly at the start, it becomes very entertaining and captivating, fueled by James’ inner struggle. At times Priceless is a little far-fetched, but it holds a balance between suspenseful drama and succinct conversations posing real questions of life and integrity for the viewer. Once you view this film, you won’t be able to forget about the issue and might even ask questions provoked by Priceless.