Tears of the Sun proves that a film that is slow at
first, can still make a comeback, and earn a positive rating.
For the first hour, or so, I was prepared to deem it a boring
waste of time. But, due to the increasing screen-time of Bruce
Willis and excellent special effects during the ending finale,
it is an appreciable war film. The direction is right on, each
performance is unflawed, and the visuals are of an extreme
purity. While movies like last year’s Windtalkers were
all battle, and no dialogue, Tears of the Sun is able to
balance each element of filmmaking to create a stellar result.
Director Antoine Fuqua has pulled off something extraordinary.
Lieutenant A.K. Waters (Willis) and
his troop are stationed in Nigeria, about to undergo a mission.
Accomplishing such a mission would seem as if it were routine,
but it proves to be tougher than expected. They must find Dr.
Lena Hendricks (Monica Bellucci), a priest, and two nuns, each
American citizens, before they are endangered by invading
rebellious Muslim forces. Dr. Hendricks and her fellow workers
are in the Nigerian homeland, aiding wounded civilians. But,
when Waters’ troop tries to transport Hendricks back to the
United States, conflict emerges. She refuses to leave her
patients. The only way Waters is going to be able to remove
Hendricks from the country is to take her people with them. And
so, the troop leads 70 Nigerians through the jungle, to the
If there is one giant problem in
Tears of the Sun, it’s the pacing. For over an hour, all
there is to watch is Lieutenant Waters guiding the injured
native citizens through a surreal-looking jungle. In the last
half-hour, however, come big explosions and visual
extravaganzas. This film balances action and dialogue
beautifully, but due to its half-assed execution, viewers won’t
feel as satisfied as possible when the credits begin to roll.
This is not to say that the special effects are anything less
than amazing. Each visual, shown in the last 15 minutes in
Tears of the Sun, is miraculous. In terms of appearance,
this easily outdoes the recent war-flicks Black Hawk Down
and We Were Soldiers. But, when analyzing true substance,
this film doesn’t even come close to par.
While the visuals definitely highlight
the film, the main thing that keeps Tears of the Sun
afloat, is Willis’ performance. Realistically, he is much too
old to be a Navy S.E.A.L., but faithfully plays the extravagant
role of A.K. Waters. Luckily, he keeps the rather pretentious
dialogue that consumes the first half of the film, interesting.
It is crucial for a film like this one, to have a strong actor
at the lead, because they are able to hold things together.
Without Willis, this film would not be worthy of watching, nor
would it gain the publicity that it deserves. Without the
onscreen effects, it would have absolutely nothing working in
its favor. It’s truly amazing that two, seemingly small aspects
of a film, can make or break its impact on the audience.
Tears of the Sun sneaks away
with a passing grade, but does have a considerable amount of
room for improvement. It is ultimately saved by an excellent
performance from Willis, and killer visual effects. It is
overrun by its flaws at times, predominately in the beginning,
but will manage to retain the respect of its audiences in time.
If I officially “love” it; is extremely questionable. There is a
certain happiness that comes upon me when I see Willis onscreen.
He has such a magnificent presence, and in Tears of the Sun,
this is lit up by Antoine Fuqua’s triumphant direction. This
film had miraculous potential, and it delivers most of what it
promises. At this dreadful time of year for cinema, I’ll gladly
take an above average attempt.
-Danny, Bucket Reviews