Throughout the past 100 years, there have been many awe-inspiring war films. From the murky and macabre depths of the human psyche that Apocalypse Now bestowed upon its audience, to the all-out grandeur of The Longest Day. Antoine Fuqua’s (Training Day) new epic, Tears of the Sun, tries hard to fit somewhere in-between.
In Tears, Lt. Waters (Bruce Willis) is a hardened war veteran sent with his platoon on a mission to rescue a doctor (Monica Belluci) trapped deep in the Nigerian rain forest. The snag is that the good doctor refuses to leave without her patients, which causes a multitude of difficulties for Waters, who has to choose between his mission and his morals.
All the while, the group is pursued by a group of militant rebels that has recently overthrown the Nigerian government. These guerillas are murderous, immoral and evil, in stark contrast to the American platoon which is murderous, amoral and good. This somewhat simple plot gets more and more complicated as the identities of some of the patients are revealed.
Throughout the film, the viewer is bombarded with drawn-out suspense and overacted drama that simply fails to capture the audience. In fact, nearly the first 75 minutes of the movie are filled with scenes of Belluci crying, while Willis stares blankly, attempting to derive a solution to his moral conundrum.
However, the main failing of this film seems to be in its unflinching desire to insert emotional content into the rigid logic of the United States armed forces.
This desire, instead of giving emotional credibility to the film, makes it less believable.
Instead of the audience being emotionally invested in the characters and the plight of their situation, if is more likely to think that what occurs is not what would really happen.
The redeeming qualities of the film are limited to the action scenes and the absolutely stunning shots of the Nigerian countryside.
However, this is not enough incentive to go see this movie. The action sequences are buried in the last 45 minutes of the movie, and though they are intense, and undoubtedly the most interesting of the film, there is a plethora of other movies with better ones.
The fight scenes are all but ruined by a completely horrible ending, which follows immediately. As for the scenery, it’s just that: scenery.
When viewing a movie, the most important question to ask is whether it is entertaining. The answer in this case is yes, but not for very long. The action that entertains is anticipated for too long, and then it is fleeting.
Bruce Willis has played some exciting roles in the past: Die Hard, The Fifth Element, Moonlighting even Look Who’s Talking. Any of these would be an adequate substitute for the $8.50 that would be wasted on his mediocre and overall uninspired performance in Tears of the Sun.
The film is so bland, that the audience will have difficulty deciding whether it enjoyed it.
The movie itself had its own problems deciding if it wanted to be Black Hawk Down or Full Metal Jacket. Unfortunately, it never quite made up its mind.
Drama, R, Running time: 118 min.
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