Tears Of The Sun

"Weak"

Tears Of The Sun Review


In the rose-colored military world of "Tears of the Sun," orders from superior officers are little more than suggestions and the mighty United States war machine always does the right and righteous thing.

When a team of Navy SEALS led by Bruce Willis is sent into the thickest jungles of war-torn Nigeria to extract a Western doctor (talented Italian beauty Monica Bellucci) from a missionary village, he's moved to break regulations and go back to rescue the civilians too. Otherwise they'll die at the hands of violent, ethnic-cleansing rapist rebels who are laying waste to the area and killing everyone in sight.

His commanding officer (Tom Skerritt) -- who spends all his time talking to Willis on a satellite phone, trying to hear over the roar of jet engines on an aircraft carrier flight deck -- barely shrugs his shoulders at Willis' insubordination. Even when Bellucci demands to tag along on a several-day trek through rebel territory to the nearest border, effectively scrubbing the soldiers' primary objective, the Navy higher-ups seem to take a laissez-faire attitude toward Willis and a civilian making up their own rules.

Bellucci ("Brotherhood of the Wolf," "Malena") keeps interfering with the rescue operation -- demanding time for people to rest when rebel soldiers are hot on their trail, not staying put in a safe place when she's told to by SEALS who are about to ambush said rebels. But little effort is made to set her straight and none of the soldiers get fed up with her. In fact, only one voices even the slightest doubt about risking their lives to get a random handful of poor villagers out of the country.

If the movie's message is that such selfless acts of heroism should be our military's status quo when it goes into hostile foreign countries, that's admirable. But if "Tears of the Sun" takes place in a fantasy world where the American military is that altruistic anyway -- albeit passively so at the command level -- then the point of such a message is lost.

In 1999's "Three Kings," an Army unit led by George Clooney disobeyed orders by helping civilians escape from Iraq. That film took place at the end of the Gulf War, after the first Bush administration encouraged such civilians to rise up against Saddam Hussein, then stood by as the dictator's armies slaughtered them and their families.

"Three Kings" had something to say about the self-serving double standards of American diplomacy, whereas "Tears of the Sun" is nothing but well-made action-movie propaganda with only simulated pseudo-substance.

Director Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day") brings sharpness and precision to the picture's compelling battle scenes. His finest moment is the small SEAL unit's angry, surgical-strike obliteration of a rebel soldier battalion that abruptly ends a torching, raping, killing rampage in a small village. It's action-packed but properly harrowing, and gratifyingly courageous without being afraid to show the men's raw emotions.

The film also looks fantastic, with rich nighttime cinematography that captures nuances of dark faces in even darker surroundings.

But "Tears" has a connect-the-dots screenplay (by Alex Lasker and Patrick Cirillo) in which even "surprises" happen right on cue: The company's point-man thinks he hears something rustling in some tall grass. He signals for everyone to get down as the musical tension rises dramatically. Then a wild pig emerges from the grass, a sigh of relief is breathed, he gives the all-clear, rises up, and -- do I even have to tell you what happens next?

Willis gives a reliable performance as the SEAL unit's leader, whose rebuff of the rules of engagement comes at a point where he's just seen too much bloodshed to stand aside any longer. But Fuqua fails to seize on that sentiment, which should be what drives the movie's emotional core. Not that there'd be much point since Willis's superiors don't seem to care if he follows orders or not.

Eamonn Walker (Muslim inmate Kareen Said on HBO's "Oz") is the movie's only other standout as Willis's second-in-command, if only because his intensity distinguishes him from the rest of the under-developed, Boy-Scout valiant platoon characters.

If the real US government and military had the conscience of the grunts in this movie, we'd have a lot fewer enemies in the world. But the film's patronizing finale -- grateful Africans doing happy tribal dances as a little boy tearfully waves to their Great White Savior's departing helicopter -- says more about the movie's (and America's) ethno-centric politics than I ever could.



Tears Of The Sun

Facts and Figures

Run time: 121 mins

In Theaters: Friday 7th March 2003

Box Office USA: $43.4M

Box Office Worldwide: $85.6M

Budget: $70M

Distributed by: Columbia Pictures

Production compaines: Columbia Pictures, Revolution Studios, Cheyenne Enterprises, Michael Lobell Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 33%
Fresh: 50 Rotten: 100

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Lieutenant A.K. Waters, as Dr. Lena Fiore Kendricks, as James 'Red' Atkins, as Ellis 'Zee' Pettigrew, as Kelly Lake, as Michael 'Slo' Slowenski, as Demetrius 'Silk' Owens, as Danny 'Doc' Kelley, as Jason 'Flea' Mabry, as Captain Bill Rhodes, as Colonel Idris Sadick, Awaovieyi Agie as Musa, as Patience, Ida Onyango as Lasana, Benjamin Ochieng as Colonel Emanuel Okeze

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.