TEARS OF THE SUN is an action drama and war movie starring Bruce Willis as Lt. A.K. Waters. Lt. Waters is sent with his SEAL team on a mission into strife-ridden Central Africa, to bring back an American Doctor, Lena Kendricks, who is running a medical mission there. Set against the backdrop of a current day coup, Dr. Kendricks, her refugees, a Roman Catholic priest, and two nuns are in real danger when a group of homicidal soldiers travel their direction with ethnic cleansing and church burning on their evil minds.
Steely eyed, and mission centered, Lt. Waters and his very capable SEAL team are tasked with getting Dr. Hendricks safely away from the African conflagration. Problems quickly arise when the strong-willed doctor is unwilling to leave without 70 of her friends and patients. Frustrated, and realizing that rebel soldiers are closing fast, Waters reluctantly agrees and begins a slow trek to the landing zone for extraction by helicopters from an aircraft carrier.
After a close call, and the throat slitting of one rebel, Waters and the group make it to the landing zone. Waters promptly pushes Dr. Hendricks on the chopper, loads his team and leaves the refugees stranded in the jungle, stating, “My mission was to get you out, not them.” Dr. Hendricks is devastated, cursing and spitting on Waters. After the chopper flies over the still-burning mission and they all see the bloody bodies of the people that remained there, Waters has a change of heart. He orders the chopper to turn around and land, he loads it with as many weak and young people it will hold, and he and Dr. Kendricks stay with his SEALs to lead the remaining refugees to safety.
Now, instead of a small rebel force pursuing them, they are chased by hundreds of well-armed soldiers! The reason is that one of the refugees, unknown to the SEALs, is much more important than an American doctor!
TEARS OF THE SUN combines the skilled action and effects of movies like BLACK HAWK DOWN with stunning jungle footage like that in THE MISSION. The Hans Zimmer musical score is a wonderful mix of African instrument and themes wound around a classical background. (Think LION KING without Elton John.) Though Willis’s character is fairly unemotional, he eventually warms up as he begins to see Dr. Hendricks and her friends as more than just “a package” he has to deliver.
TEARS is a little preachy sometimes, with a few technical plot stretches, but overall fairly tight and compelling. It shows the Catholic priest (French accent) and the nuns as brave and caring. The priest even blesses the SEAL team for helping. At the end, one of the refugees tells Waters, “God will never forget you,” though Waters earlier had said, “God left Africa a long time ago.”
Regrettably, TEARS OF THE SUN is marred by some light and strong foul language, though it’s believable of soldiers. Also, the movie realistically portrays horrible scenes of mutilation, rape, brutality, and cold-blooded genocidal murder, along with the already graphic war violence.
Director Antoine Fuqua does an admirable job of filming in difficult locations and moving the story and action along. His premise is that the people in the United States can do good with their armed forces to help the helpless. In this case, in a foreign country with tribal violence, it is difficult to ascertain who the good guys really are, so he makes the aggressors to be the villains.
TEARS OF THE SUN ends with the famous, important quote from Edmund Burke, one of the founders of the republican democracy which America embodies: “All it takes for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” TEARS OF THE SUN is not recommended for the sensitive, squeamish or easily offended, but it continues the trend, established so powerfully by some in Hollywood last year, of movies with strong Christian content.
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(CC, BBB, PP, H, LL, VVV, SS, M) Christian worldview with very positive, moral portrayals of priests, nuns and American soldiers and their bravery and self-sacrifice; secondary humanist elements with a humans-sticking-together-can-save-the-world message; 13 mild to strong obscenities; horrific war violence with pillaging, brutality, rape, murder, genocide, priest killed with machete; brief image from medium long shot of soldier raping female; no nudity; and, ethnic cleansing and lying.
GENRE: War Movie