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Tears of the Sun (2003)
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Review Date: March 03, 2003
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Alex Lasker, Patrick Cirillo
Producers: Ian Bryce, Mike Lobell, Arnold Rifkin
Actors:
Bruce Willis
Monica Bellucci
Cole Hauser
Plot:
A band of Navy Seals are sent into a small Nigerian village to pick up a doctor, two nuns, a priest and return before the bad guys crash the party. Unfortunately for the rescuers, the good doctor doesn't want to leave unless she can take all of her patients with her. The team succumbs to her demands, but it isn't long before their trek through the jungle is interrupted by gunfire and missile attacks. Tears of the sun ensue?
Critique:
This dramatic/action/war movie might just be the victim of some really bad timing. First off, it can be said to be "late from the prom" in the sense that a number of similar films already came out last year including WINDTALKERS, BEHIND ENEMY LINES, WE WERE SOLDIERS, BLACK HAWK DOWN and no matter how you cut it, audiences do get a little jaded after a while. Second of all, as some of you surely already know, the U.S. is currently on the brink of launching an attack on a third-world country, so the politics of the day can also be somewhat distracting to the plot of this film. Is the mission worth sacrificing American lives? Do the troubles of other people really concern us? Should personal feelings get involved when following direct orders? The answers to those questions might just sway your investment in this film one way or the other. For myself, I didn't think the filmmakers did a good enough job to make me believe that such a huge sacrifice was worth it for the team. Having said that, once decided, I went along with their mission, and while the film on the whole was decent enough to recommend for a viewing on video, I didn't think that it presented anything that I hadn't particularly seen or heard before. In fact, if it wasn't for Bruce Willis and his restrained, yet heartening performance (loved the shot of his face in the helicopter as he looked down over the grounds), I'm not sure the film's energetic conclusion would have saved the rest of the picture, which on the whole, went on for too long, didn't develop enough of its characters and ultimately, wasn't all that engaging. In fact, if you're going into this flick expecting an "action" movie...walk away!

This pic is more about the mission, with lots of walking through the jungle, lots of African chant music in the background (think LION KING) as the camera slowly pans across a number of people looking haggard (beating the film's message into our heads), a few really cheesy lines ("...for our sins") and lots of interplay between Willis and Bellucci's character (who incidentally might just be the most beautiful woman on the face of this planet-even when the movie makes her look as wounded, dirty and disgusting as possible, she's still hot as heck!) The film does present a decent moral dilemma though, makes you feel for the leader, as well as the woman who is providing for all the war-torn natives and ultimately features a pretty exciting battle sequence near the end, as well as a tense shootout about halfway through. The problem with the movie might not be that it's "bad", as much as it's not all that original or captivating. Looking back, I can't say that there was much about it that was memorable other than its ending, and even that...got a little heavy-handed. See it for Willis, see it for Bellucci (although her overly righteous and naïve attitude pissed me off at times), see it if you're interested in the whole "soldier's conscience" angle, but skip it if you're looking for originality, lots of action or anything particularly extraordinary. One thing I will give director Fuqua is that he completely avoids the "romance" angle and for that, I was quite grateful.

Note: The one "funny" moment in the entire picture is the scene in which actor Tom Skerritt is obviously making his one-day appearance on an aircraft carrier to shoot his scene, while about 10 jets take off behind him in less than 30 seconds. Gimme a break.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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