Tears of the Sun (2003) Antoine Fuqua
Production Budget: $70 million
Worldwide Gross: $86 million
An elite special ops team (headed by Bruce Willis) is sent in to Nigeria to rescue Dr. Lena Kendrick (Monica Bellucci) before rebel forces assault the village she is in. Kendrick makes the ultimatum though that she will not leave unless the Special Ops team rescues her 70 refugees also.
When I first saw this movie I absolutely hated it. Now seeing it seven years later, I view it more with resigned ‘whatever’ attitude. There’s nothing about this movie that sticks out as being really shitty, but then again there’s nothing that is any good either. This is your standard ‘message’ movie about doing good and feeling sorry for the plight of people in Africa. The main point is that these grizzled war vets who have seen it all and don’t care about anything are moved to action because of the outrageous actions of the militant forces. That’s all well and good but not everything is so black and white as the movie paints it to be. There certainly is a debate as to what the United States’ role is supposed to be in international affairs. I think people are more willing for action if one country is trying to invade another and conquer its people. It could be a separate issue when it is an internal conflict. Would the people of the US have appreciated it if Britain stepped into the US Civil War? Are larger countries to act as world police? This also discounts other ways we could help them by offering a home for refugees or for providing humanitarian aid or other types of political pressure. Now I am not making a specific statement about what is going on in Africa or what the US needs to do or what is the right course of action. I am merely saying there is a debate on what should be done (rightly so), and that it is not as black and white simple as this movie and say Attack on Darfour (Uwe Boll’s latest opus) would have them claim. But now we are straying away from talking about the movie.
The movie itself is…okay I guess. The cinematography is good looking, the direction is well done, and the action scenes for the most part work. One of the best parts is when this elite special forces unit stealthily kills a raiding party attacking a small town. The story, as I explained earlier, is as simple as you can get to move the plot along. They do try adding some intrigue by throwing some questions as to whether Kendrick is lying about something. However this doesn’t have the splash the writers were hoping for and it comes off more as a contrivance than characters working in a logical sense.
I guess my biggest problem is with the characters. None of these people have any kind of personality. At all. An argument could be made that they are blank slates and that the audience is to imprint themselves into the roles. After all, we are supposed to sympathize with the refugees and kind of see ourselves in the roles of the soldiers. In essence, what would we do in those roles? That still does not excuse the fact these people have no personality, no character, and no depth at all. I could not tell you anything about any one of these characters after being with them for over two hours. I even had to look up Bruce Willis’ character name because I didn’t even remember that. If I know absolutely nothing about a character then I have little reason to root for them or care whether they succeed or not.
Tears of the Sun is all kinds of ‘meh’ for me. As I mentioned earlier, nothing about it is truly rotten, its that none of it is any good or memorable. It is not anything I ever want to see again and it is not anything I think anyone should go out and rent.