Tears of the Sun (2003)
Bruce Willis is an ARMY squad leader called in to rescue a doctor (the sultry Monica Belucci) at a missionary in Nigeria. The country is in great turmoil after very very evil rebels have assassinated the entire royal family. Oh, but the good and very hot doctor refuses to leave without Willis’ squad taking the refugees out of the missionary with them. He begrudgingly accepts and they as a group travel through the countryside of Nigeria, all the while the very rebels are not far behind.
The film takes a tonal shift when Willis’ men come to the choice of staying with the refugees and trying to save them all, or following their mission protocol and getting the hot doctor onto an ARMY helicopter and shipped out ASAP, with no regards to the refugees. The shift in morality isn’t as smooth as Three Kings but now the film tries to place an emphasis on the human scale of genocide (even though ALL of these refugees who have lived in squalor have sterling white teeth, go fig). The weight of the topic easily alludes what is little more than a by-the-numbers action film.
With action films there will always be gaps of logic. However, there was one monumentally glaring miscalculation of forward thinking that prevented me from getting into the film again (*Spoilers ahead, big angry spoilers*).
Okay, so African Rebels are chasing Willis and his team and the refugees. Got it. But then we find out later that one of the refugees is actually the, wait for it, heir to the throne of the country! All right, sounds hokey and more than a little culturally pretentious but I can follow. Hold on a second then. This heir to the country, who is obviously so important that people would risk their lives and safety for his own, why did these people not put him on the ARMY helicopters earlier that flew a handful of refugees out and to the safety of a U.S. air craft carrier. It makes no freaking sense whatsoever to have this golden opportunity that would 100% ensure the safety and longevity of THE HEIR TO THE KINGDOM and say, “Nah, you know what? Well catch the next ARMY helicopter guaranteeing safety to the man who would be king. Well sweat it out and have the rebels chase us, we could use the exercise anyway.” What has just happened to this movie?! After this, it was never the same for me; not that it was anything special to begin with.
Tears of the Sun is an action movie that attempts to be an action flick with a heart and a social conscious. There is a segment of the film where Willis and his cadre stumble onto ANOTHER batch of DIFFERENT but still very EVIL rebels assaulting a town, you know, rape and pillage and the like. Willis and company essentially save these people from the rebel tyranny but at this point the films core message has been well lodged into your gray matter: Africa needs the white man’s saving. More than a little arrogant and a tad racist, don’t you think? I mean not every country can wait patiently for Willis to liberate them.
Tears of the Sun does have some lovely examples of cinematography and some competent pieces of action here and there. In the end the film is an overblown and culturally insulting entry into the genre of people shooting and people falling down.
Nate’s Grade: C