"Tears of the Sun"
Directed by Antoine Fuqua.
Written by Alex Lasker and Patrick Cirillo.
Starring Bruce Willis, Cole Hauser and Monica Bellucci.
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 3/10/03
For the record, Rai “The Only Black Man in San Diego” Wilson is the
true genius behind the now-copyrighted term “Kung Fu-Tang”,
describing the ghetto chopsocky films like
“Cradle 2 the Grave”
being mass-produced by the Hollywood machine. Although Rai has
never responded to a Bellview before this, he apparently reads them,
since four minutes after I sent out that review, his fiancée Nik
“The Fist” Jordan called me out on the error. Hey, I admit it when
I’m wrong, so there!
Okay, you got me--I’m a pretty big Bruce
Willis fan. And, unlike the other action heroes of the late 80s and
early 90s, Bruce’s films have not taken too much of a dive as he
approaches his 50th birthday, although he has diversified the
portfolio by staying away from gun-heavy action fantasies that
categorized his early movie career. (Of course, by signing on for
the 4th “Die Hard” project due late next year, he knows that he’s
still got a family to feed!)
“Hart’s War” was serviceable,
Sixth Sense” was a good career move, and “The Fifth Element” is
still a great film to watch every time it is on TV.
In “Tears of the Sun”, Willis stays close to
the nest that nurtured him early on--it’s back to guns and glory in
this new action-drama from Antoine Fuqua, who also directed “The
Replacement Killers” (with Chow Yun-Fat) and
“Training Day.” Lt.
Waters (Willis), a Navy SEAL-type officer stationed off the African
coast, is assigned to go into Nigerian territory to retrieve an
American doctor (Monica Bellucci, upcoming in “The Matrix” sequels)
and return her to an American aircraft carrier. That sounds easy
until Waters lands in Nigeria and the doctor insists on taking all
of her 48 patients with her...making the transport of 50 people
instead of just one a nightmare for everyone involved. Nigerian
militiamen are hot on their tail, and these evildoers give Waters &
Co. everything they can handle on their way back to neutral
Fuqua, a long-time commercial and music
video director that crossed over with “The Replacement Killers”,
does what he did with that film almost to a T--“Tears of the Sun” is
never very boring, but never really breaks free of traditional
warfare films like this. There are mass ethnic cleansing executions
committed by the Nigerian forces, and try as he might, Fuqua never
really got me to break in watching these drawn-out sequences of
terror. It doesn’t help that Willis plays Waters as a career
professional, emotionless for 75% of his screen time until he
decides to become a nice guy and try to rescue the refugees from the
camp. His character, as written, is almost totally unapproachable
(for both the good guys and the audience) and his team members are
of the stock War Guys casting prototypes that normally appear in
movies like this.
But, Fuqua has always staged action scenes
well and “Tears of the Sun” is no exception--the final 30 minutes of
the film are pretty exciting and I liked the tactics the team uses
to try and extract the refugees. Fuqua was also able to find some
of the hardest-looking Nigerians in Hollywood (or, Hawaii, where the
film was shot), so it is fun watching some of them get it in the
end; Bellucci is interesting to look at as well, although I can’t
really tell you why. I don’t believe her to be all that attractive,
but something about her presence makes her very watchable. Tom
Skerritt’s presence here is entertaining as well, mostly because
whenever I saw him I could only think of his VERY similar part in
“Top Gun”, so I kept imagining him yelling “Dammit, Maverick!”
whenever he was onscreen.
Not bad. Compared to the other films I have
seen during Dogshit Week, this one is a revelation!
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard