Tears of the Sun (2003) Poster

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6/10
Outstanding middle part surrounded by Hollywood clichés
rbverhoef21 May 2006
'Tears of the Sun' is a movie with a message and an interesting first hour, but contains too many Hollywood clichés to really be something. We start with Lieutenant Waters (Bruce Willis) and his team of SEALS who have to rescue Dr. Lena Kendricks (Monica Bellucci), a priest and two nuns from a missionary post in Nigeria where murdering rebels are about to arrive. The priest and the nuns want to stay, Kendricks only wants to come if the Nigerian refugees can come too. Waters agrees only to leave them behind as soon as Kendricks is on the helicopter. Then, from the helicopter, he witnesses the result of rebels passing by and in an instant he disobeys his orders and turns the helicopter around.

This is the point where the best part of the movie begins. Waters and his team are on their own now, leading the refugees to the border of Cameroon. The way his team not always agrees with his decisions but how they are loyal anyway is one of the interesting things here. Another is the way the movie dares to show the rebels and their actions, things we see parts of on the news in places like Liberia and Sudan. It gives us an impression how hopeless the situation is in some parts of Africa. The distraction here comes from Kendricks who is an obvious Hollywood plot device. She is the possible love interest, or at least the needed female character, and she must annoy Waters by constantly suggesting things that even to her must sound stupid when followed by a lot of rebels. Never mind.

Then the third act starts and the movie fails to deliver what it kind of promised before. Instead of following the dramatic path it changes into the kind of action film Hollywood likes to produce. A lot of gunfire, explosions and bodies flying through the air. That's too bad since an earlier action sequence was able to show both the horrific actions of the rebels and the trained and nuanced way of SEALS dealing with a situation. During that sequence I felt a director (Antoine Fuqua) doing his job the right way, making the movie very intense. He did the same thing for the excellent 'Training Day' from the year before. His third act of 'Tears of the Sun' was sort of like an introduction to his real Hollywood adventure, 'King Arthur'.
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Very worthwhile movie...give it a try.
innocuous30 March 2004
Hmmm...where do I start? Should I point out to a recent reviewer, who sarcastically pointed out that Nigeria has an air force and could have bombed the group fleeing through the jungle, that the "bad guys" are rebels, not government forces? Since the rebels just killed everyone in the President's family, they probably scared off the government pilots, too. (Sorry...couldn't resist.)

And since when was a movie so horribly, horribly bad because it couldn't be filmed in the actual location? So what if this was filmed somewhere other than Nigeria? And so what if the music was not "authentic Nigerian music"? I don't remember a title card at the beginning of the movies saying it's a National Geographic documentary.

This is a good movie. Less action than many war movies and less thought than some political dramas. There are good and bad people of all races. There's tension and there are explosions and gunfire. There is ample opportunity to reflect on what mankind is capable of doing to each other for political reasons.

Give it a chance and I think you'll enjoy it. Better yet, I think you'll be sombered by it.
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9/10
A very powerful and authentic film with a strong moral theme
cooperaitaliano22 July 2005
This film was simply incredible. I didn't see it at the cinema, which upon seeing it later on DVD release, regretting missing first time round.

It made some incredibly powerful statements and was very difficult to watch. I rarely admit to this, but I actually found parts of it so moving, that I cried! And I never cry.

The choice of Bruce Willis was a good one and he plays a deeply conflicted character, he plays him with depth. I have seen Monica Belucci in films before. She is an incredibly gifted actress and she really believed in this project. Her character comes across as having strong religious and moral convictions, prepared to die to help and protect others. This comes across in the decisions she takes and the willingness to stand strong under pressure.

Having seen the Documentary on the special features section of the DVD afterwards, I could see the incredible lengths that everyone attached to the filming went to. Each of the actors playing Seal Team members, went through some very authentic training in preparation and stayed in character outside of filming during the day. Given the commitment of all those attached to the film, I can see why the film is what it is.

The director, Antoine Fuqua, from the films I have seen in which he directed, brings a strong moral theme to his characters and the story. The whole visual manner of filming, camera angles, close ups etc adds to the intensity here.

The choice of filter during filming, that gives a subdued and darker feeling visually, was perfect. The use of Africans as extras was an interesting and a suitable choice, given their backgrounds. Many of these extras were showing genuine emotions which was captured on camera, as they relived traumatic moments in their lives when certain scenes were filmed.

On that note, one scene in particular made for very difficult viewing, but totally in context and I would expect it would provoke a strong reaction from viewers, for good reason. The actual combat scenes are kept selectively short and in context to the overall film. They are also very realistic.

The soundtrack was well suited and complimented the whole overall feel to the film. I would not say that this film was entertaining, it is very hard to watch but it is an example of good film that will challenge everyone who watches it and who has a conscience.

After seeing this film, as with Hotel Rwanda and Tears of the Sun, I am constantly reminded of our individual and collective moral responsibilities in the 'civilised Western World' when atrocities are committed. And it sits badly with my conscience that 'we' in the West do so little and so late in trying to stop such genocide from happening. I for one think that every adult should see it.
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An excellent action/thriller with something to say.
Li-17 March 2003
7.5 out of 10

Tears of the Sun is hardly perfect. Director Antoine Fuqua's direction can get a bit heavy-handed and most of the characters are one to two-dimensional in development (understandable, given the large cast). But it's a solidly made, often thrilling and sometimes thought-provoking film that aims for serious issues, particularly as a sober outlook of modern warfare and morals. It's not entirely successful at the latter, but to even attempt to stray from typical Hollywood is admirable, and Tears of the Sun is often more hit than miss.

Bruce Willis stars as A.K. Waters, the head of a mission to retrieve a Dr. Lena Hendricks (Monica Bellucci) from the Nigerian jungle, after Muslim rebels have just assassinated the presidential family, and are on a rampage throughout the country. Hendricks is located easily, but she will only leave so long as all able-bodied individuals on her mission can come along. Waters reluctantly agrees, but soon finds that he and his group must trek the jungles with no assistance and with 300 Nigerian soldiers hot on their trail.

Tears of the Sun works as a thoughtful film, but is more successful as a tension-builder. Director Fuqua shows an able hand at building suspense to a feverish pitch, all the way to the concluding battle sequence, a fifteen minute setpiece that rivals any recent war film in both intensity and technical superiority. The other major action setpiece is a tense shootout in a village, the aftermath of which is disturbing in its revelation of the rebels' treatment of civilians. Tears of the Sun is a violent film, but never exploitative in its approach.

The film's two best developed characters belong to Bruce Willis and Monica Bellucci. Willis has always been a fine actor, this understated approach has worked for him before and fits like a glove here. I'm not quite as familiar with Bellucci, who I've only seen in Brotherhood of the Wolf and as one of the brides in Bram Stoker's Dracula, but she's quite good here, easily the film's anchor when it comes to heart and warmth. I'm certainly not exaggerating when I say she's one of the most beautiful (and bodacious) women to ever grace the screen (and I look forward to her in the upcoming Matrix sequels).

There are flaws, such as the rather obtrusive musical score and some pretentious use of slow motion on Fuqua's behalf. The film's biggest narrative stumble comes with a plot twist 3/4's through the movie, when an extraneous plot twist is revealed. Admittedly, without the twist, the film wouldn't have been able to build up as much suspense, much less deliver that final battle. But when all is said and done, Tears of the Sun is highly recommended, a Hollywood film that has more on its mind than explosion and gunfights (which the movie still has an ample amount of).
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8/10
Doing the right thing without a Stars and Stripes to be seen
pdt197823 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
While it's far from classical film making I was quite surprised by how good I found this movie. My partner and I have both spent some time working in Africa and she has a special interest in human rights and humanitarian intervention. When we saw the preview for this movie we both let out audible groans and eyes were rolled aplenty: America saves everyone...again. The movie was immediately consigned to the "I wouldn't watch that if you paid me bin..." but we did watch it and we quite enjoyed it.

Aside from the slightly too sexual relationship between Willis and the doctor (they almost kiss - simply no need) the movie runs along pretty well and was by turns very tense, exciting and fairly moving.

Most importantly I felt it provided a thought provoking picture of what ethnic cleansing might really be like, something that film makers hesitate to explore. War time atrocities are one of those things that we all have a fair idea about but that are rarely portrayed. This movie did a VERY good job of describing awful atrocities without being overly gory or, worse, sensationalist and the use of humiliation and subordination as a weapon was subtly demonstrated.

Technical aspects aside the soldiers were convincingly concerned about the refugees without overt "We're all such goddamn heroes, aren't we?" posturing. All the major clichés were utterly avoided, not a single stars and stripes to be seen, not even the remotest hint of patriotic zeal, no mournful brass sections but plenty of Hans "I really need some new material after Gladiator" Zimmer's African melodies. The violence was visceral without being excessively bloody or stylised, and there was a sentimentality that deftly avoided being cheesy.

Most importantly Bruce Willis managed to avoid being Bruce Willis for 80% of the time.

The nearest thing I would compare this movie to is Black Hawk Down. However, BHD is wedged firmly in the action genre and this really isn't. Yup, there is shooting and violence in it but it manages to not be about that, which I think is a great thing.

My advice: grab the DVD version, watch the movie, then watch the trailer/previews included on the disk - you'll wonder if you were watching the same film, the trailer just does not do it justice.
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8/10
When Tough Soldiers Become Human Beings
Claudio Carvalho28 August 2004
Warning: Spoilers
In Nigeria, the rebel troops killed the elected president and his family, and are performing an `ethnical cleaning', killing the other tribes. The platoon leaded by Lt. A.K. Waters (Bruce Willis) is assigned in a mission in the jungle of Nigeria for rescuing the American Dr. Lena Fiore Kendricks (Monica Bellucci). Once in the location, Dr. Lena only agrees to leave the place if the team rescue also the other refugees lodged in the mission. In principle and with the intention of accomplishing his orders, Commander Waters agrees with the terms of Dr. Lena, but when the helicopters arrive, he leaves the Nigerians alone in the jungle. However, after seeing the massacre made by the rebel troops in the mission where he was, he returns and decides to lead the Nigerians to the safety of Cameroon. This film is a surprisingly good dramatic action movie. I do not believe that an experienced and tough soldier would jeopardize his mission, like Lt. Waters does in this story. However, Bruce Willis is perfect as a tough soldier, who gets evolved and shows compassion with the situation of the Nigerians. The citation from Edmund Burke in the end of the story is also very beautiful: 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing'. Although having some flaws in the story, I found this movie a good entertainment, with a great message in the end. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): `Lágrimas do Sol' (`Tears of the Sun')
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8/10
If you like gritty, realistic action movies then this will not disappoint.
Rob_Taylor5 June 2003
Tears of the Sun. A pretty typical actioner which reminded me a little of Navy SEALs, though grittier and more believable. Willis is his usual mostly expressionless self here, yet somehow he manages to get the part of the troubled Lieutenant across very well indeed. The other actors all do their parts well and leave little that makes you frown in their portrayal of hardened special forces personnel. It was nice to see Cole Hauser in this movie. An underrated actor who is only now starting to get decent parts since his role in Pitch Black. Almost makes me want to go and see 2Fast 2Furious to see how he does in that. Almost...

But back to the movie. The plot won't stretch your mind much and the "strange" reason why the rebels pursue the refugees so ardently isn't very hard to guess long before the characters in the story discover it. But the action is plentiful, as is the brutality portrayed. If you like sanitized action movies then this film might upset you a little. It's not for those who think that war is about pushing buttons from hundreds of miles away or that all soldiers carry a copy of the Geneva Convention in their kit and consult it regularly.

But if you like gritty, realistic action movies then this will not disappoint.

And now....a small rant.

Oh dear God! I can't believe some of the truly stupid comments here. The concept that this movie's sole purpose was as a propaganda vehicle to make people feel better about the Iraq conflict is laughable to anyone who has a higher IQ than their shoe size. And as for Hollywood constantly portraying Americans as the great saviours....well why the hell not? Who in God's name wants to go and be depressed watching "the good guys" shoot innocents and ignore suffering. Yeah, that'd do real well at the box office! Movies are meant to entertain and make you feel good, not come out of the theatre wanting to slash your wrists. Jeez! Get a grip you people.

Thank you....end of rant.
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comment about realism
GJFisher20001 April 2006
As a person who can speak from a reputable stand point, I have to say this movie is different than many other "war" movies and is generally regarded highly among many different types of members in the U.S. military. This films representation brought forth a perspective that showed a few sides to a mission. Yes there is the desire to finish and get out. But the film also showed that the situation can change on the ground as it always does, and sometimes you have to modify. An seasoned veteran like Lt. Waters who is somewhat seasoned being a Lt. probably would have the foresight to say it is safe to go ahead and try and get these people to a border being that was the only way to drag the doc outta there without hog tying her, even though the orders above were different. A team leader is expected to use some discretion and Lt. did that. Although it was borderline crazy operationally it still worked. Working in that environment is not just like a round of socom. Things happen and you have to do the best you can for the situation if it is feasible and you have the balls to do it. Also, the depiction of the action scenes were practically dead on and impressive. Mr. Fuqua didn't cheese it up, it was kept fairly raw and confusing as is a real engagement. The ethnic cleansing scenes, well it doesn't get any more realistic than that. I can understand why everyone else hates America for doing these films about ourselves but honestly can you see a french film showing specwar going into save a village, nope. They would hand out white flags to everyone. Maybe the Aussies, Israelis, or Brits, but pretty much beyond those three countries thats all ya got. If at the least, this is a reminder that even when you think you know about what our guys are doing in the world, you don't know the half,we lose guys everyday and people should realize that a silent war exists.
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7/10
Enjoyable drama set in an undeclared war...
mentalcritic20 November 2004
The world we live in is a dangerous, unstable place, and nowhere is this more evident than in Africa, the place where many things of our world, AIDS included, are said to originate. Indeed, about the only thing that cannot be found in Africa is oil, which makes American interest in the region difficult to imagine, leave alone explain. So when we are presented with a story about a war in Africa, it only stands to reason that we must ask exactly why we see American soldiers.

Bruce Willis gives a delightfully underacted performance as the leader of an infantry unit sent to retrieve a handful of American citizens. Things get complicated when the primary objective refuses to leave without dozens of her patients. Instead of simply escorting one woman to safe territory, the party winds up in a race to the Cameroon border with one substantial territorial force in pursuit. Exactly why this force pursues them, we don't know until the climactic battles are about to take place, but it works.

Indeed, the actors here are not even noticeable, excepting maybe Tom Skerritt, who looks as if he spent his salary on diet pills. Instead, the sumptuous locations and cinematography, along with the action, are the stars of this film. This is a good old-fashioned action film, in spite of its very relevant story. What makes it stand out is that instead of modern action where nobody can see enough of what is going on for it to matter or make sense, we get our action scenes the old fashioned way. Blood spurts, detailed shots of the guns going off, or weapons striking flesh, are a reality rather than a much lamented unfulfilled requisite.

There are some problems, but they are minor in the grand scheme of things. When one shows fighter planes dropping air-to-surface weapons, it is usually an idea to get those weapons right. Using air-to-air missiles to drop napalm, for example, is not on. At least the dire action films of the 1980s used weapons in a manner that was convincing. The believability of a commanding officer allowing such violations of orders is very difficult to imagine, to say the least. Then again, given that these minor lapses happen once or twice during a two-hour film, this can be overlooked.

I gave Tears Of The Sun a seven out of ten. It's not at the level of a Verhoeven action film, or even a Cameron action film. It is, on the other hand, a good piece of entertainment with a decent and human edge, with sequences that have been competently shot. Which puts it ahead of a lot of films on today's market already.
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8/10
'War Movie' With A Noble Message
ccthemovieman-122 August 2006
The is a solid "war" movie with U.S. Navy Seals, led by Bruce Willis, rescuing an American doctor and 70 of her patients from war-torn Nigeria. This is violent and bloody n parts but definitely not another "Blackhawk Down" with overdone violence (although I liked Blackhawk Down).

This is beautifully-filmed, artistic in spots. I imagine this would look super on HD with a big plasma TV. The sound is excellent, too.

Critics didn't like this movie. I suspect one big reason is that they are used to seeing films in which Christians are shown as sympathetic victims of persecution. Critics also don't like to see the right thing being exalted.

Willis is perfect for this role as the strong, stone-faced leader. Monica Bellucci could have been a little more likable as the doctor. The story gets a little too melodramatic at the end, but it's tolerable.

This is not a family film by any means, because of the violence, perhaps 20 f- words and a dozen abuses of the Lord's name in vain. Still, an interesting movie with a different slant, and at least has a noble message.
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5/10
Standard action fare, or a subtle political advocacy?
Cyberjunkie28 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"Tears of the Sun", is a lush, violent and eventually frenetic film by director Antoine Fuqua, set during a fictitious, and particularly bloody, Nigerian civil war. Using elements of the many real civil wars and coups d'état that have plagued Africa, the film develops from a plausible premise. Although it is an action movie overall, with all the blood and gunfire one would expect, "Tears of the Sun" does illustrate (graphically) the brutalities that are uncomfortable realities.

After the democratically elected government of Nigeria is deposed by armed rebels, and the country descends into anarchy, an élite U.S. military unit is dispatched to evacuate four foreign nationals. With Lieutenant Waters (Bruce Willis) at their head, the unit departs for the mission with orders not to engage the militia unless fired upon. The supreme confidence of the men assures the viewer that success is ensured.

Reaching the remote encampment, Waters and his men encounter a recalcitrant Dr. Kendricks (Monica Bellucci) who refuses to leave without 'her people'. Informed by his superiors that her patients could not be assisted, Waters instead deceives Dr. Kendricks, telling her that those who could walk could come. The three Catholic missionaries decline evacuation, even though certain death awaits them. And so, through the jungle they journey to safety with rebels in pursuit.

The plot is quite simplistic, but also inconsistent and, often, annoying. Dr. Kendricks seemingly cannot comprehend that they are in the most immediate danger, consistently protesting that her people need to rest. Even after the group narrowly survives a rebel patrol she complains. Her belligerence is contrary to the overwhelming sense of urgent danger conveyed by the film. Presumably, it serves to generate a tension between her and Waters that ultimately leads nowhere, and certainly not to any romance.

The first half of the film is set almost entirely in the depths of the jungle, as the group moves towards the Cameroon border. It is quite slow-moving and repetitive as the group advances and rests and then proceeds again. The jungle surrounds are lush, thick, wet and dark, and close-ups are prolific as Fuqua attempts to convey a sense of claustrophobia. However, little is done to endear the characters to the viewers. Willis as Waters speaks so scarcely and his portrayal so passive, that instead of appearing curiously enigmatic, he is distant and disinteresting. The neglect of character development during the early part of the film disconnects it somewhat from the latter half. The powerful and percussive African music largely fails to move the viewer, and potentially poignant scenes do not recognise their potential.

The film takes a sudden turn when the group bear witness to an unfolding pogrom. The soldiers, having at this point already committed themselves to aiding Dr. Kendrick's patients, are moved to intervene. Here, "Tears of the Sun" rises above the prevailing mediocrity, if only because of the scenes' sheer grisliness. The audience is successfully shown what is euphemistically termed 'ethnic cleansing'. Fuqua does not shy away from depicting the senseless slaughter and sexual violence that has been inflicted upon innocent peoples. With this scene the soldiers emerge as 'heroes' not because they were obedient, but because they intervened to do the 'right thing'.

The film, from this point, continues in violence and descends into an all-out action film. The ending is reasonably cathartic; the 'bad guys' are crushingly defeated in a display of pyrotechnics worthy of the "Die Hard" franchise, and Waters and the group make it to safety – although not without losses. Water's disobedience is vindicated, and the film alludes to its ultimate viewpoint – that American, and indeed international, intervention in crises is both desirable and 'right'. That the film begins with a title card of the oft-cited Edmund Burke quotation – "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" – confirms the film's advocacy of this position. Incidentally, "Tears of the Sun" was released in the lead-up to the Invasion of Iraq. "Tears of the Sun" is a film best appreciated in retrospect.

(S. R. Watson, Flinders University, Adelaide)
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7/10
" I broke my own rule and gave a dam! "
thinker169130 September 2007
Films about war often share several things in common. The primary ingredients are lot's of guns, good explosive action scenes and a believable story. Have one and not the others and it will surely fail. The movie " Tears of The Sun " has several. Our story is framed around Seal Team leader Lt. A.K.Waters (Bruce Willis) who is selected by his commanding officer Capt. Bill Rhodes (Tom Skerritt) for a simple rescue mission. He is to clandestinely enter the sovereign territory of Nigeria, a battle-scarred nation in the mists of a civil war and rescue a tiny group of white missionaries and take them to safety. Easy enough. However, the situation becomes complicated by the group's refusal to leave, or to travel without taking the African people with them. For a soldier, it's easy, take the group by force and leave the people. However, Waters' and his team, decide to become humanitarians and rescue all the Nigerian refugees whatever the consequences. The main consequence is; the team is a ten man squad and after their decision become the quarry of a thousand angry Nigerian soldiers. This is a good film for Willis, but becomes entangled within it's multiple plots. Still, it contains two of the prescribed ingredients and therefore makes for a good movie. ****
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Servicable, though the human angle is undernourished
Wizard-817 January 2004
It's not hard to see why John Woo was attached to this project for a while - it has a lot of similarities to his earlier (and underrated) movie HEROES SHED NO TEARS. (The intense climax, in fact, feels extremely John Woo-ish.) I can only wonder what it would have been like had he been in control... though considering the general quality of his American movies, maybe that might not have been a good thing. Anyway, the movie as it is ends up being not bad. It's paced pretty well, and even though there's not that many action scenes (though they are all well-staged), it's never boring, and that fact will be enough for most people. The biggest weakness is that the characters are not very strong - Willis' character hardly says that much and you don't get a feel for his character, Bellucci's statements and actions eventually resemble that of a broken record, and the rebel commander pursuing the protagonists is given no personality at all. But if you are looking for more for jungle action, look for HEROES SHED NO TEARS. And if you are looking more for this kind of thing with more of a human element (though no less exciting) to it, seek the equally underrated DARK OF THE SUN.
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6/10
So, why Nigeria?
RolloTomasi11 March 2003
The makers of `Tears of the Sun,' blindfolded, maybe just pointed at a list of African nations in which ethnic cleansing has taken place and landed on Nigeria? Actually Nigeria is as good a country to pick on as any. Rwanda, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe are some other nations they had to choose from. Clearly the makers of `Tears' wanted it to take place in Africa, for noble reasons I'm sure. Hollywood has long ignored the tribal warfare and military horrors of many of its nations.

But I wondered how close what happened in the film is to modern conditions in Nigeria. I thought there had to be a reason they picked it. For one, I think they wanted a jungle nation. That eliminates Ethiopia and Sudan, which are eastern, high and dry nations. As for Rwanda (also not a jungle nation), the U.S. presence there in 1994 is still a source of controversy, with questions about the degree of our involvement or lack of it. Also much of that catastrophe was aired on newscasts throughout the world. It's safe to say that the film's makers, understandably, simply wanted nothing to do with that nation. Then there's Nigeria. What takes place in `Tears," the source of the religion-fueled ethnic cleansing depicted, is a military coup d'etat. The truth? A civilian government exists there today, although parts of Nigeria regularly experience localized civil unrest and violence, including in the country's largest city, Lagos. Clearly what takes place in `Tears,' though, at least the events of the coup itself, are modeled after Rwanda.

The choice to use a real nation is curious indeed. To not do so would seem to indict all of Africa in the minds of those with a narrow world view (surely a good portion of the film's potential audience). I guarantee the film will be the ONLY education many people who see the film will get on that country. It's as if the film's makers are saying, 'Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda--one's as bad as another so it doesn't matter which we use.' As I said at the beginning, if any nation deserves to be picked on in this way, Nigeria fits the bill. The problem is that the reasons behind genocide, in any nation in which it takes place, are much more complex than Muslims (easy targets these days) killing Christians.

In the film, the only body commiting murder in the film are the soldiers. In Nigeria's history, the violence has been largely tribes warring with each other, with the military getting involved and sometimes, according to whom you ask, taking sides. What's happening in the film is basically a very one-sided civil war, which is accurate--but more times than not, it's tribe versus tribe that produces the mass killings. By necessity, the filmmakers must take an overly simplistic view of Nigeria's history of unrest. The film tells of a royal family, democratically elected to office, being assassinated. This, as far as I can see from some researching the subject, never happened in Nigeria. Military dictators were overthrown by other military men, and sometimes the outgoing leader was assassinated. Nothing in the scope of the events told in "Tears," though, ever took place. In fact, Nigeria's current president is a civilian, Olusegun Obasanjo, who was the country's dictator from 1976 to 1979, was replaced by a civilian, then jailed during the administration of Sani Abacha (who ruled from 1993 until dying of a heart attack in 1998). Obasanjo was freed by Abacha's successor, Abdulsalam Abubakar, in 1998. Abubakar, like Obasanjo in his time, transitioned the country to democracy. Obasanjo ran in the elections of 1999 and won.

What eats me about `Tears of the Sun' and other war films like it (`Behind Enemy Lines' comes to mind) is that just once I'd like to feel like I'm not watching an Army propaganda film. Even `Black Hawk Down' had a certain war hawk-lean to it. This is certainly due to the fact that cooperation with US Armed Forces is vital to the production of these films. Agreements are made-certain lines are not to be crossed, certain information not divulged. But a piece like `Tears' not only doesn't cross the line, it comes off like a navy SEAL training video. A scenario like that told of in `Tears' deserves better than the macho fronting, the ‘just doing my job, ma'am' excuses for inexcusable behavior. Surely audiences deserve a better explanation for ethnic cleansing than ‘it is what they do,' as if the Nigerian woman has no idea why the Nigerian soldiers would commit such atrocities. If you're not willing to answer the question yourself, then don't ask it.

I'm sure `Tears of the Sun' is supposed to be about how humanity is impossible to suppress, even for the most hardened soldier. It's hard to believe they would stand and watch the ethnic cleansing take place for even the short time they do before acting. From where I sat, there seemed to be no choice at all. The only thing to decide is how to stop it. See `No Man's Land' for a better picture of how it's impossible to get in the middle of a conflict and stay neutral.
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Americans who give a f***
staisil211 June 2003
If you get past the whole unbelievable parts, and into the story itself, its a damn good movie. Bruce Willis is always a good actor in intense situation movies, with his straight face, spunk, and how is natural charm always gets the girl. The supporting cast was stupendous, and I really felt for the africans in the movie. 7.6 out of 10.
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5/10
Africa lies beyond Eboli
damien-1612 December 2004
Francesco Rosi has made "God has stopped at Eboli". Indeed God may well have. Several people commenting on Tears of the sun mention Burke's quote on evil triumphing if good men do nothing. But to me the most memorable, and most poignant, quote is Willis reply: " God has left Africa a long time ago". I have worked in Africa for 17 years. I can fully understand the sentiment expressed in this reply. I do not want to give up hope, and I have spent some memorably good moments there, but I cannot but help thinking more often than not that Africa has become a basket case. Some of the reasons for this are hinted at in the movie: greed, by the west hungry for oil and minerals and by the corrupted local officials, tribalism, which may be linked to religion although in my experience the tribe comes first, and especially the use of tribalism to foster greed, as in this film.

The carnage shown at the mission and at the village are gripping illustrations of something that has been happening in Africa for ages and certainly will continue for many more years. I can believe the movie is honest in trying to kick us a conscience with these images. They certainly are very powerful. But this honorable intention is marred by 2 things. One: it is packaged into a very mediocre action movie, woodenly acted, with a script full of holes and an unbelievable, but it is Hollywood after all, ending. Two: it is too topical. We are not looking at a universal conflict, the two tribes are not archetypal for THE tribes, no, they are specifically named: Fulani and Ibo in Nigeria, and suggesting the Fulani are monsters and the Ibo innocent slaughtering sheep. Not so. It could easily be the other way around. By giving these very specific topical references, the film compromises severely whatever universal message it might want to make. And presenting the son of a tribal chief as a hero for democracy is delusional.

Related to the topicality: if your film is supposed to take place in south-west Nigeria, the landscape should look the part. I did not believe for one moment that we were in Nigeria. I liked the music, but if it was supposed to bring a sense of Nigeriality across, it failed to do so. On the other hand, it gave a sense of Africa, and as such the music came much closer to illustrate the universality of the movie than did the story.

Still related to topicality but in a different sense: the character of the doctor played by Monica Belluci was very unbelievable, especially if you consider that her husband was killed not that long ago in a similar situation in Sierra Leone. I could easily recognize the priest and the nuns and their desire to stay. I talked to many missionaries who survived the massacres in the Congo in the sixties. What we see in the film comes over as quite realistic. But why does Dr Lena behave the way she does? What is her motivation? How is it possible that she is always yelling: "MY people" as she is only there since a short time and doesn't even speak the language? Psychologically she is totally underdeveloped, and that brings us back to the first problem point.
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1/10
A whole army cannot defeat a handful of soldiers!
Bo Schreurs6 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Although a film with Bruce Willis is always worth watching, you better skip this one. I watched this one on television, so I didn't have to plunk down cash for it. Lucky me.

The plot develops slowly, very slowly. Although the first 30 minutes or so are quite believable, it gets more and more unbelievable towards the end. It is highly questionable, if a seasoned soldier like Lt. Waters would disobey direct orders. And even if he would, if the rest of his platoon would. They know he puts them in direct danger, and they know they will certainly die if they follow him, but what the heck, he is our Lt. so let's do what he says (despite the direct orders, remember).

Still, there are some nice scenes in this movie. They somewhat save a village, where the total population is being massacred by the rebels. Well, they save a dozen villagers or so, the rest was already killed. The strange part of it, that they did take the trucks which the rebels left behind. They rather go on foot. Maybe because the roads are unsafe, but there was no explanation for it. Anyway. I think this was what earned the movie the one point I gave it.

What made this movie an insult to the brain and hence completely unbelievable is that a group of 7 soldiers can kill of so many rebels without being hurt or killed themselves. Only near the end they loose a few comrades. And that is only because they have to fight of an army of nearly 500 or more. Can you believe that?

They fight of an army of so many, kill hundreds of them, and only loose a few of themselves. And they have rounds and round of ammo. Never run out of it. Grenades and claymore mines, an M60 machine gun and even an RPG. Where do they get this stuff. Carrying it around or what? They even got a laptop which shows them the activity of enemy rebels. And this laptop has a battery which goes on for days. Really? Who think up this crap.

I guess if you turn off your brain completely and accept that the rebels are a bunch of idiots, you give this movie a high rating. If not, skip this one. It saves you time.
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1/10
Brought me to tears – for all the wrong reasons.
Roger Burke16 June 2007
Tinsel Town has produced some of the best war films ever made (From Here to Eternity, Home of the Brave, The Thin Red Line, Flags of our fathers). This is not one of them – not even close.

Bruce Willis has starred in some of the best action movies ever made (Die Hard, Pulp Fiction, Unbreakable, 16 Blocks) where he also shows that he can truly act. This is not one of them – not even close.

Perhaps I'm unfair in comparing this story with those other war movies because this is not a war movie, per se: it's just another vehicle for Hollywood to con the American public into believing and accepting that US forces can go wherever they want to as long as there's somebody to rescue from oppressive forces within a country in political chaos.

From a narrative perspective, the story is pedestrian, formulaic, predictable and banal. The characters are stereotypical, wooden, one-dimensional caricatures. The cinematography and editing are adequate to the job at hand – rescue a white female (natch!) French (natch!) doctor (natch!) with the walking sick and wounded from her hospital in the Nigerian jungle -- and the special effects produce the required shock and awe from viewers, no doubt. The saccharine sound track, however, should have been left in the can. Give me Ride of the Valkyries in Apocalypse Now (1979) anytime, puleeeese...

But what's truly imaginative, even astounding – not to say magical – is how Bruce and his cohorts gallivant through the jungle to finally face down the overwhelming forces of evil, and stride – upright no less -- manfully forward with guns blazing, heedless of the RPGs, machine guns and other small arms – and hardly a bullet or piece of shrapnel touches them. Oh, a couple of his men fall, heroes all, but Bruce with his coterie of favorites breaks through, and, with a little bit of help from a couple of convenient F-18 Hornets, by God and US Might, finally reach Safety on The Other Side of The Fence.

And the last we see of Bruce is with the good doctor, she cradling his (only slightly) wounded body (and soul) as they both rise in the almost white Blackhawk chopper flying off into the sunset.

Thankfully, this film is now forgotten by me; alas, it's not gone from the scene yet. Hopefully, it'll be consigned to the can, where the music should be anyway, and you'll never see it. You'd be far better off watching Snow White (1937), I kid you not.
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10/10
Fantastic Film
whpratt128 August 2005
Seemed to have missed this Bruce Willis film and I was completely taken by surprise with the plot of the film, the photography and the great acting and action scenes are beyond words. Bruce Willis (Lt. A. K. Waters),"Bandits",'01, is assigned a mission and decides to complete the mission just the way he wants to and disregards his orders from his Commanding Officer. Lt. Waters does however, rescue Monica Bellucci(Dr. Lena Fiore Kendricks), " The Passion of the Christ",'04, and Lt. Waters does not seem to get along with her wants and desires. Lena Kendricks asks for an entire village of poor sick people be taken on helicopters to avoid brutality and rape from Terrorists. There are very graphic scenes that does not leave much to your imagination and sparks and passion does seem to occur between Lt. Waters and Dr. Kendricks. In order to enjoy this film, be patient with the beginning and stay with the film, you definitely will enjoy the entire picture.
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1/10
Excruciatingly irritating heroine
guyb11 June 2003
Monica Bellucci's character was one of the most irritating characters I've seen this year. How an experienced MD living in the jungle could be this naive is beyond belief. She whines and whines and puts the soldiers at extreme risk. This was just not credible. I can't imagine the soldiers would put up with this in real life. I just kept wishing something would happen to take her out or my misery or someone would just hit her up-aside the head. The priest and nuns were irritating too, but I guess this might really happen; there people can be real naive in real life as well as dedicated. I think Bruce Willis had a real chance for a halfway decent movie and should have vetoed the casting. They actually did a decent job at developing the other military characters, but it was destroyed by her character.
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10/10
Awesome movie
elvolao200020 February 2006
I saw this movie when it first came out on theaters and after that I bought it and added it to my collection. This is by far one of the best military movies ever. Good story and good acting deliver a touching message regarding the cruelty of ethnic cleansing, and remind us that all too often force has to be met with force. One of the details that make this flick so different is the military aspect of it. Forget "Navy SEALs", Missing in Action", "U.S. SEALs" and all those other special operation based movies. This film is as close as you will ever get to seeing a real SEAL team in action. You will get special warfare eye candy when the team does a stealthy assault on a village where some killing is underway. The way they move, how they attach suppressors without being told to, the tactics they use, the way they deploy to cover a large area with only eight men, the actual procedure of "peeling off" (retreating) later in the movie, and many other small details, are the closest I've ever seen that shows the general public what a deadly machine a real life SEAL team is. I give it the highest score. If you want to enjoy a good action movie with depth, that is actually believable, check this one out. You'll be wondering if is based on actual events. "Hoo-Yah!"
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10/10
Most powerful film I've seen in along time.
jechuha19 November 2004
Tears of the Sun is not mediocre. I think the humanity is pungent. At a time when everyone questions whether we should have ever gone to Iraq think what is done in the name of terror and ethnic differences. I believe the closing quote, saying evil exists when good men do nothing. This film is a comment on our times. How much longer can we worry about our own comfort and prosperity when these things happen in the world. I think anyone who didn't like it and wasn't moved by it doesn't want to know what it has to say. This is not usually my style of film. I am a 54 year old woman. I think that says a lot about how good this film is. Sometimes a film just lives in your heart.
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Sentimentalist junk
Leif Hellstrom25 October 2003
The story, and particularly the ending is the worst type of Hollywood sentimentalist junk. Since the film is so consistently trying to manipulate the viewer, many scenes become quite predictable (especially when various Americans get shot; you could pinpoint some of those to within +/- 2 seconds). The use of string music to push people's buttons - please be sad here - is more obvious than usual. It all becomes quite boring.

Any why is it so hard to produce a film with believable Africans? As usual in American films, most of the time they react and behave like black Americans. I guess that had more to do with the script than the actors, since many of them seemed to be Nigerian immigrants.

Having said all that, the art direction was very good and most of the sets had a quite African feel to them.
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A propaganda flim for the war
lucas-winter8 May 2003
Tears of the Sun is a very sad movie that does justice to the title. The story of Nigeria and bloody political coo that's major reform in the government was to implement genocide. The basis for this genocide was ethic cleansing which meant if you did not believe in the same god as the rebel forces that were taking over Nigeria you were shot in the head. Actually you would have been lucky to get shot in the head. Many were tortured and some even burned alive. The women were raped and had their breasts cut off if they were nursing at the time. The United States had a citizen that was a doctor working in a mission in Nigeria trying to help all the wounded from the bloody coo going on. If the U.S. dose not goes in a save her she will be killed like everyone else. I find the time of the release of this movie along with the attack on Iraq to be more than a coincidence. The movie is all about the United States coming to the rescue and saving the American doctor. The movie goes one step further, with the special opts team trying to save the whole village from being wiped out. The team puts their lives on the line to save the people by marching them to a county while they are being chased down by the murdering rebels. The movie is one big piece of propaganda for the United States involvement not only in Nigeria but in any country in the world. The movie depicts the rebels as heartless murderers who kill, rape, and burn every thing they meet. The movie shows this again and again. This is best depicted when the priest is praying and the general takes a machete and cuts off the priests head. The camera work in this sense is amazing with a close up to the hand raising and grip tightening on the handle then has it as it falls to his head. The scene is cut to a tree filled with white birds all of the sudden flying away. This might symbolize the priest's death and his soul being released to heaven. The rebels were depicted as total animals but in most war movies the enemy is. The other aspect that made this movie a propaganda film was the way the U.S. troops acted. They were depicted as the people's saviors and they could do no wrong. The U.S. soldiers did what was right no matter if it meant that their lives would be in huge danger. This is repeatedly shown in the movie first by turning the helicopters around to pick up the kids. Next, by the soldiers going into a town killing the rebels when they could of went around the town. It is also shown by a solider running back to grab a Nigerian women trapped by gun fire. Using himself as a human shield to save her even though he gets killed. If the constant parade of the U.S. great actions is not enough, at the end there is a touching scene in which there is a close up of one of the Nigerian woman the solders saved thanking the remaining soldiers and crying thanking them and telling them all are blessed by god. This movie is just the repeating of the same theme of the U.S. doing the right thing no matter what. This is even repeating in the end of the movie when their blank screen except for a quote that says `for the triumph of evil is if one good man to stands ideal and does nothing about it.'
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9/10
Powerful
mOVIemAN5624 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I'm always flipping through channels for a good action flick. I remembered seeing a preview for this when I was at the movies but never decided to go see it. A couple of months ago STARZ showed it and I was surprised. there was no hype, no support, and really no appreciating reviews that I read or saw. But I watched it.

As civil war rages in the African country of Nigeria. U.S. citizens are stuck in the war-torn country and Special-Op soldiers under the command of Lt. A.K Waters (Bruce Willis) is sent in to retrieve the American doctor Lena Fiore Kendricks (Monica Bellucci). After arriving at her clinic she refuses to leave unless 70 refugees are taken to safe haven with them.

Water's, a fiercely loyal man decides that the only way to complete the mission is to save them too. Now it is a race across the Nigerian jungle with ruthless rebels chasing them. I'm still not sure if this is based on actual events, I know that many countries in Africa have gone through civil war but I'm not sure about this.

Bruce Willis' character develops through the duration of the movie from a hardened soldier to a complex, caring character focused on saving the refugees. Monica Bellucci is making a name for herself with this, The Passion of the Christ (2004) and both matrix sequels (2003-2004).

The movie did not receive what it deserved. this could probably be considered the predecessor of Hotel Rwanda (2004) focusing on the same subject of genocide. The film is slow at some parts but the amazing battle scenes held in the forest and the representation of cruelty of the rebels keep the movie going. Some scenes are hard to endure, the slaughter of an entire village including the children and babies. Bombs incinerating refugees as the run from the rebels.

The movie doesn't stray from its point and the ignoring of the world toward the civil wars raging in Africa (currently Sudan).

Tears of the Sun. Starring: Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Cole Hauser, Eamonn Walker, Tom Skerritt, and Mick Chinlund.

4 1/2 out of 5 Stars
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