Movie Review: Tears of the Sun

“God? God already left Africa.”

When Civil War hits Nigeria, kicking off a round of ethnic cleansing and a ruthless military dictatorship, the U.S. sends a squad of Navy SEALs to extract a U.S. National, Dr. Lena Kendricks (Monica Belucci). The team, led by grizzled Lt. A.K. Waters (Bruce Willis), reaches the doctor, but she refuses to leave without the refugees under her care. This inevitably sparks the embers of sympathy beating beneath Willis’s hard exterior, prompting the marines to defy orders and undergo a dangerous cross country trek toward the Cameroon border, to guide the refugees to safety.

Let me start with the good. The cinematography, as is common with this decade’s mass of African-centered action flicks, is spectacular. Africa is a wet, breathtaking world of vibrant colors, steep cliffs, and swirling mists. The brutal madness of war and genocide is brought to life through vivid scenes of battle, rape, and execution. The situation may be fake, but the feelings it evokes are not. Great beauty is contrasted by sickening scenes of human cruelty. Scenes are well thought out and carefully executed.

There are a few good action sequences between the drama as well, but nothing spectacular. Watching the SEALs do their stealthy massacres are fairly impressive, but in terms of the actual battles, there’s better movies and better sequences.

Bruce Willis is as Bruce Willis is—the badass man with a cold exterior and a warm, soft center. It’s his traditional character, and there’s no surprises here. He exists to help and he’s good at it, even if the inevitable happy ending isn’t exactly a likely friend of reality.

The script is where we start to lose points. Suspension of belief in regards to the SEALs’ “holier-than-thou-it-is-our-duty-to-mankind” policies aside, neither the dialogue nor the characters are going to blow your mind. The story is tired and shoddy, and something we have all seen done a dozen times before. But seriously, believe me, you will need some suspension of belief for the characters—the SEALs make for some very unbelievable military men.

What twists it has are predictable and unexciting. The realization of a refugee “rat” among the group, while no surprise, also provides the very doubtful scenario of the AK-wielding baddies spreading random transmitters on random folks all throughout the country in the desperate hope of finding one guy. Greatest. Plan. Ever.

But Yes! They must save the former Nigerian president’s son, for he is the embodiment of all that is democratic, and the son of a king/president, and so…well, he’s going to inherit the kingdom, you know. Given that the baddies wacked his daddy in their very unthoughtful coup, that raises a few problems for him. Thankfully, he happens to be with Willis’s crew, so, everything works out in the end—because once Willis puts his mind to something, it’s going to get done.

Also: Squad of marines, hundreds of rebels—who do you think will win in a climactic finish? The marines, of course. Or…Bruce Willis, rather. There’s really not that many marines left. Remember, though: happy ending, people.

Traditional Military Bravado number 256?: “HOLD THE LINE!” (Oh and they just shout it again and again, and again.)

So in conclusion, no, this one didn’t win any awards, and for good reason. There’s better films to spend your time on, and better selections in the war genre, to boot. If you’ve got a couple hours to kill, though, and nothing better to do, it should entertain.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

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~ by Chris G. on February 26, 2010.

One Response to “Movie Review: Tears of the Sun”

  1. […] about what was going on at home. Honestly, she's not the greatest writer, and I guess I couldn'tTears of the Sun (2003) – I always wondered why Marcia cried so hysterically over her braces– turns out, the tears were […]

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