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Tears of the Sun /

Rated: R

Starring: Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Cole Hauser, Fionnula Flanagan, Tom Skerritt 

Directed by: Antoine Fuqua 

Produced by: Ian Bryce, Mike Lobell, Arnold Rifkin, Bruce Willis 

Written by: Patrick Cirillo, Alex Lasker 

Distributor: Revolution Studios


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Movie Image

Movie Image

     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 Cameroonian border.

     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


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