Tears of the Sun (2003) / War-Action

MPAA Rated: R for violence, some brutality and language
Running time:
118 min.

Cast: Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Cole Hauser, Johnny Messner, Tom Skerritt   
Director:  Antoine Fuqua
Screenplay: Alex Lasker, Patrick Cirillo

Review published March 5, 2003

Bruce (Hart's War, Bandits) and co. are sent on a special-ops mission into the Nigerian jungle with a simple mission to get an American (by marriage), and any other "non-indigenous" people out of there before the newly empowered rebel forces slaughter the village they are in.  The mission is simple, but compromised when Bruce begins to soften to the laments of the Nigerian people that the woman refuses to leave behind.  With the rebel forces hot on their tails, they must complete their mission, while also attempting to deliver the village to safety.

Tears of the Sun is a good film in all respects except it needed a a more intriguing story.  There really isn't anything bad about the film otherwise.  Bruce Willis gives a good, gritty, and low-key performance.  The supporting cast are all very capable.  Antoine Fuqua's (Training Day, The Replacement Killers) direction continues to impress.  Good locale work, a nice score, and terrific costumes. 

All of the pieces were in place, except for the script.  There isn't much in the way of character development, and what little story there is feels too simplistic to maintain a high interest level.  There's very little dialogue, but there is a lot of action, although it's more a standard war type of action than, say, Die Hard.

If you like war flicks without a convoluted, politically-tinged story, Tears of the Sun has plenty of solid, and mostly realistic, fighting.  Don't expect the chilling realism of Black Hawk Down or the character-driven wackiness of Three Kings.  This is a so-so idea for a movie, like Moses' tale in "Exodus" without the spectacle, that is only elevated into something more due to the professionalism of all involved.  Expect no greatness, and you'll be rewarded with competent filmmaking with the only message being that inaction is just as harmful as abetting those who would do evil.

P.S. -- For those of you confused because Tears of the Sun was supposed to be the secondary title to Die Hard 4, I should tell you this is not a Die Hard movie, nor was it really intended to be one.  This was actually a film which had the original title of Man of War, but Bruce like the Tears title, so apparently there was some deal made where it could be used as the title in agreement for Bruce doing Die Hard 4.  Although, it's now doubtful if DH4, if there ever is one, will need the title since it seems farfetched that it will still be set in the jungle as originally planned, or risk further confusion.

Qwipster's rating:

2003 Vince Leo