TEARS OF THE SUN
Review by Gordon Justesen
Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Cole Hauser, Tom Skerritt
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 121 Minutes
Release Date: June 10, 2003
been strongly suggested that we abandon these refugees out here in the bush.
Iíll tell you right now Iím not gonna do that. I canít do that.Ē
Although much of it
is made of up elements weíve seen in other films of its kind, Tears
of the Sun is an undeniably powerful and striking war film. Like Black
Hawk Down, it leads the viewer literally into hell, a place where you
donít ever want to be, and keeps you yearning for the moment soldiers find
safe haven. The only difference between this and Ridley Scottís film is that
the latter was an account of an actual war. Nonetheless, director Antoine Fuqua
establishes a strong, serious tone throughout this piece, with the help of a
deeply moving script and awe-inspiring cinematography. Itís one of those rare
action films where the story drives the action instead of the other way around.
The centerpiece of
the movie is a rescue operation in the jungles of war torn Africa. The mission
is being carried out by an elite Navy Seal team led by Lt. Waters (Bruce
Willis). The main objective is to evacuate Dr. Lena Hendricks (Monica Belluci),
a U.S. citizen who providing services in Nigeria to women and children. Dr.
Hendricks is an American by marriage, and she is unknowingly in harmís way.
Thousands of rebel Muslim soldiers have initiated a bloody massacre, having just
assassinated Nigeriaís president, in addition to his family.
rebels are now engaged in what is known as ethnic cleansing, wiping out anyone
who is a Christian and not a Muslim, and Hendricks happens to be residing at a
Nigerian church of god. Once theyíve landed in the jungle, Waters and his team
have no problem locating Hendricks, but they do have to bargain with her, since
she will not leave the area unless her patients can leave as well. Waters agrees
to let her do so, but secretly for only so long, because there are only two
choppers, which canít accommodate twenty-plus weakened patients.
When at the
rendezvous point, the doctor is stunned when Waters reveals that only she can
leave. Forcing her on the chopper, the Seal team completes their mission, but
then Waters witnesses something he canít believe. From the chopper, he has
seen the church where Hendricks resided burn to the ground, along with the
bodies of the doctors and patients who chose to stay behind. Devastated beyond
words, Waters orders the chopper to circle back to the refugees. The new plan is
to carry off critical patients in the choppers, while Waters escorts those who
are able to walk, and to meet in Cameroon, the new rendezvous point.
Waters, with a few
of his men against his decision, has clearly made the morally right choice, but
at the same time heís disobeyed orders. His superior officer (Tom Skerritt),
warns him that his team is not fully equipped to handle any additional threat,
which Waters is indeed about to collide with. Then Waters and his men witness
another brutal act of ethnic cleansing, and make a pivotal decision to strike
with extreme force.
element in Tears of the Sun, aside
from the raw power of the action and story, is Bruce Willis. Here is an actor,
whoís been a favorite of mine for quite sometime, who gets better and
dynamically stronger with each performance, and his turn as the emotionally
conflicted Lt. Waters is one of his finest performances to date. He is presented
as a man who knows heís made the right choice by defying orders, but doesnít
know exactly why he is doing it, and Willis conveys this complexity quite
superbly. Thereís also a stunning presence from Italian actress Monica
Bellucci, who can currently be seen in The
Matrix Reloaded. Aside from being a stunning beauty, she brings a great deal
of fire and emotion to the part of Dr. Hendricks.
Antoine Fuqua, this is a pitch-perfect follow up to his superb breakthrough
film, Training Day. Fuqua has always
been a very good action movie director, and Tears
of the Sun is perhaps his strongest action piece to date. He proves he is
capable of handling many different genres, as he stages some of the most
involving war action to blaze the screen since Black Hawk Down.
of the Sun deserves its place
among the best and strongest war films, blending intense action with wonderful
visual imagery. Itís an emotionally drawing piece about the act of heroism,
while at the same time, not overbearing the notion.
Columbia Tri Star
delivers one of their best looking discs to date with this jaw-dropping transfer
of a disc. Iíve compared this film to Black Hawk Down, and just like that film, its look and feel is
captured in this superbly detailed presentation. First off, thereís the
stunning cinematography by Mauro Fiore that does nothing short of draw you in
with each moving frame. The African jungle settings, whether in day or night
time, are seen in tremendous detail and perfected sharpness. A true knockout of
a transfer that is certain to not have you look away for a second.
CTS has also
provided here one of their strongest audio tracks to date. The power-packed 5.1
mix does nothing short of engaging you right from the opening frame. Itís no
question that the battle scenes are the high point of the presentation, and they
deserve to be so, but the sound performance also scores points in areas of
dialogue delivery and the stunning music, which is provided by both composer
Hans Zimmer and some very powerful African chants. The result is a roar of a
sound quality that fits perfect for a film of this tone.
terrific Special Edition entry from CTS. Included on the disc is a commentary
track from Antoine Fuqua, a writerís observations, a documentary titled
ďJourney to Safety: The Making of Tears of the Sun, a voices of Africa
featurette, deleted scenes, an interactive map of Africa which captures the
numerous settings of the movie, an Africa fact track, and a trailer, as well as
bonus trailers for Anger Management, Bad
Boys II, Basic, Black Hawk Down, Charlieís Angels: Full Throttle, Hollywood
Homicide, Radio, and S.W.A.T.