MOVIE REVIEW: Tears
of the Sun
Tears of the Sun
Starring: Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Cole Hauser, Tom Skerritt
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
By Brent Carpenter
TELL ME, DOCTOR - HOW DO YOU FIX AN AILING PLOT?
Brue Willis (right) as Lt. Waters and Monica Bellucci as Dr. Kendricks
face off in Tears of the Sun.
Tears of the Sun
is a well-shot and generally well-acted war flick, but unfortunately one
with an identity crisis. Is it meant to be an action movie? A human drama?
Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) doesn't seem too sure.
The movie spends the majority of its time straddling the line between
overly-sentimental self-righteousness and technology-aided, balls-to-the-wall
action. It has been marketed as an action film, but one gets the impression
that those involved had higher hopes during production.
The movie draws obvious inspiration from other classic war movies like
Platoon and Apocalypse Now. It characterizes the jungle
as something simultaneously merciless and beautiful to behold. Along with
cinematographer Mauro Fiore, Fuqua creates an environment so rich you
can almost smell the scenery. But whereas the look of Platoon
and Apocalypse helped to compliment the deep psychological undertones
of each film, in Tears it merely functions as window dressing
for a rather pedestrian story with one-dimensional characters and a surprisingly
Bruce Willis stars as Lieutenant A. K. Waters, a Special-Ops commander
whose team is sent deep into the Nigerian jungle to rescue a nurse, two
nuns and a priest before merciless anti-Christian rebels arrive at their
compound. The nuns and the priest ultimately too full of faith
for their own earthly good refuse to leave. Doctor Lena Hendricks
(Monica Bellucci) initially refuses to leave as well, until Lt. Waters
convinces her that "her people" the wounded and sick
Christian Nigerians can come along.
Fortunately for the audience, by the last half-hour, the movie begins
to accept itself for what it really is a generic war movie
and delivers a kick-ass climax which carries none of the hollow pretensions
that work against it during its first two thirds. It's all uphill after
Willis utters the line, "It's time to cowboy the fuck up." Isn't
that what George W. Bush said last week?
Modern war films in the hands of action directors tend to suck (see: Windtalkers,
Pearl Harbor). Often they become so preachy that you can't help but
roll your eyes when they ask to be taken seriously on a narrative level.
By gradually settling into the action film it should have been all along,
Tears becomes a slick, entertaining action flick, rather than
a boring, shallow mess of a war film. As far as performances go, Willis
is in full-blown hero mode. Bellucci Bridget Moynahan's competition
for hottest woman on the planet does what she can with the material,
but the movie never asks her to do much other than look worried and stubborn,
and keep her blouse unbuttoned.
Of Willis' marines, only Cole Hauser (as Atkins) really stands out, but
that's more the fault of the story than of the actors themselves. In the
end, the movie rids itself of its schizophrenia, lets go of its pretences
and delivers Hollywood-style blockbuster action, which is the only reason
it ultimately succeeds in entertaining.