on March 19, 2004
First, the DVD appears to be an excellent transfer--gorgeous colors and photography and good sound really show off a home theater system. The extra features are excellent and explain the purpose behind the movie.
Second, this is a great story with first rate direction. It is patently an action movie that "cares" about people, and does a very good job of explaining why. The director does a great job of doing this by creating characters we care about in an intriguing plot, and avoids preachiness. I thought this was a great performance by all the actors, especially Bruce Willis whose character is laconic but nonetheless conveys the conflict raging between obedience to orders and a moral imperative to protect the helpless. Finally, I would advise that this movie depicts brutality and violence with frankness, and it is also suspenseful so I would not recommend this as "mere entertainment". To call this an action movie, while technically correct, denigrates the great emotional stakes this movie plays for.
on January 1, 2004
Eight Navy Seals get a rough assignment: Pull an American doctor out of war-torn Nigeria. The mission becomes much more complicated and difficult when the doctor refuses to leave her charges. Willis, as the lieutenant commanding the squad, has to make life-and-death choices and the allow his humanity to surface or, as he says, he learns to "give a f*ck". Willis uses his "Die Hard" style, with little opportunity for humor. There really isn't any room here for humor. It is dark, tense and scary. And there is also the triumphant, mostly rewarding and credible climax.
There is more development and tension than violence and action for much of the film. The minutes of violence are heart wrenching and not overly gratuitous. Explicit, graphic violence comes with a message, even if you choose to dismiss it. For a moment, I though there might be a neat, simple and clean ending possible, but the director (who first made "Training Day") was too honest. There is also a small political twist that adds some heart and sense of revival to the devastation trailing the small group trying to make their way from the medical mission to safety in Cameroon.
To be political and personal for a moment, I was moved. A few good men can make a difference, and not the way Rob Reiner portrayed them. Sure, this is Hollywood and creative license is what often makes art and entertainment. But Michael Moore was much less honest with "Bowling for Columbine," and he won an Academy Award for his "documentary". "Tears of the Sun" is a more honest view of, as the director says, "man's inhumanity to man."As Willis says in the accompanying feature, when it comes to internecine warfare in Africa, "It all depends upon who has the guns." And he's not talking about the NRA.
on December 14, 2003
5 reasons i love this movie
1- Great location
shot in Hawaii but incredibly representative of the Nigerian jungle aka ©African jungle/Heart of Darkness (copyright - Hollywood marketing material/Joey Boy Conrad) - did you see that yawning Mandrill . Reminds me of safaris i took when i was younger - well actually, that was the Kenyan jungle and the South African jungle. But seen one ©African Jungle, you've seen them all - did i mention the yawning Mandrill.
2 - Factual accuracy
Could someone in Hollywood let Nigerian President Obasanjo know
a) that the Nigerian Civil war did not end in 1970 but unbeknownst to him is still raging on
b) that he is no longer Yoruba but Ibo (heck one African tribe is as good as the other, least Hollywood research turned up a Nigerian ethnic group, he could have been made Masai you ingrates)
c) to rename his country (sounds too much like Liberia) - must be easier to do that than to research one of the numerous real life conflicts in African countries that might provide equally worthwhile drama, stuff blowing up and the added benefit of not trivialising tragedy as fairy tale.
d) that Nigerians are the new Kenyans - heck they ran all night tracking Brucie's men didn't they. There is even a quote in the movie to support this, anyhow they all track kudu all night anyway - what noble lungs they all have.
Also, all occurences of american characters in movies emphasising their native-loving credentials by passing off gobbledegook as "native" language were kept to a minimum. And NONE were passed off with meaningless subtitles
3) Dramatic complexity & Character depth
the moral dilemma associated with the conflict portrayed was stunning. Kinda reminded me of Platoon actually and the whole moral dilemma thing of Vietnam but you know in a movie-about-a-tribal-conflict kinda way. The range of emotion displayed by Noble African Native Woman Screaming A Lot on Her Way To Meet Her Baby (that's her real name - kinda like the injuns - but her friends call her NANWSALOHWTMHB) was quite remarkable. There was one scene where the utterly hopeless look on her face conveyed the tragedy of a nation looking down on the symbolic hacked off - can-no-longer-nuture - dreams of future generations - looking down on Noble African Native Women With Breasts Hacked Off After Being Raped (formerly known as Noble African Native Women With Breasts Flapping On Pages of the Nat. Geographic) (thats her real ... u know the drill).
4) Opportunities for new actors
Nothing like a film about AFRICA!! ("faint Tribal Drums in the background, fade to black") to provide loads of roles and greatly needed opportunities to play black, for blacks in the movie industry (ethnic ones for that matter). Credits included Jonas Olumo who played Jonas (don't know who that was? shame on you for not paying attention) and Man With Goat who played Man With Goat.
5) Social Reengineering -
for those who were immediately resigned to the curious appeal Hollywood has of making sure romantic interests are paired off neatly along America's racial lines (i.e. meaningful scene laden with potential romance b/w Eamonn Walker aka Da Black Seal and NANWSALOHWTMHB), this film pushed the envelope with the scene where the non-Eamonn Walker Seal died saving Noble African Native Woman Straggler Gagging To Be Killed and expired lovingly on her backside.
Can't wait for Tears of the Sun II
on November 22, 2003
Reading and writing are two of the most enjoyable pass-times that I have. Another entertainment medium that I enjoy as often as possible, is movies. Last night I had the pleasure to view, for the first time, "Tears of the Sun" starring Bruce Willis, (A.K. Waters), portrays a Special OPS Commander who enters the war torn wilds of Nigeria to retrieve Dr. Lena Hendricks, (Monnica Bellucci) before disaster strikes the missionary where she works. Refusing to leave with Waters unless any and all able bodied patients are allowed to come with her, Waters is faced with a conscientious decision. A conscientious decision Waters has never allowed himself to face before. The value of a human life and the fact that he really does care. At first, bent on treachery and successfully performing his mission, Waters leads the cumbersome troupe through a rugged and harsh terrain in order to reach the prearranged L Z. Along their way, both Waters and his men discover something about themselves and the people who have placed their lives in their hands. What transpires is visually graphic and often horrific. But War truly is Hell on Earth.
If you're looking for a movie with a happy ending, this isn't the movie for you. But if you want to see a Hollywood version of the Hell that War truly is, and what the real life victims of a war torn country must face on a daily basis, this is the movie for you.
Willis has never been an actor to do a tap dance around the harsh reality of life. Though the man does have a humorous side, as we've seen in the movie "Blind Date", a rollicking flick also starring Kim Basinger. This is one of my all time favorite movies, ever made. If you haven't seen it, see it soon. You won't regret spending the money. Another favorite of mine, which Willis himself admits to being one of his few box office failures is "Hudson Hawk". Again if you love the humorous side of Willis, this movie is a must see. One my children and I enjoy watching together. "Hudson Hawk" is a box office hit at my house.
on August 12, 2003
this is a super intense movie.. true it doesnt really offer anything new, but pretty much everything besides the script is awesome. everything is shot in deep saturated greenish tones, all very lush and wet and high contrast. i couldve just watched the movie with the sound off and enjoyed it, its so beautifully shot, everyone's faces are shiny with rain/sweat and smeared with grime which kind of accentuates their features and just makes the whole deal fun to look at. lots of good faces in the film too, monica bellucci is of course super good-looking, bruce willis' features are all dark and creased so he looks like the sort of character that comic book artists love to draw. the Other Guys in The Squad are the same way, for some reason they are just easy to look at and remember, so that by the end you've connected with them not through dialogue and plot elements but just by the way they behave and look at each other.
as for the script, its definitely half-and-half. sometimes the harshly clipped and minimal lines work to emphasize the military mannerisms of the SEALs, but then sometimes things just get corny. theres a lot of sort of stupid lines, and a bit too much cheap plays for emotion, shots of refugee mothers hugging their kids, or just shots of kids by themselves.. theres some short "doing the right thing" sort of speeches that are pretty sappy, not cuz of what theyre saying but just how they say it. like when the black dude goes "these are my people too" etc, its delivered in a sort of soap opera-esque way that just sort of halts the vibe. same with some of the "thank you" stuff at the end, its just kind of cliche and fake.
plot-wise theres really nothing new, its like the same plot of saving private ryan and all those other war movies about a unit of guys pulling someone out of a war zone and embarking on a great personal journey in the process etc etc.. of course all the running around comes to a head and theres the "we are about to be killed, who's with me" speech by the leader, shortly followed by The Climactic Battle scene, in which you learn what youve been wondering since the beginning: which members of The Team will be gunned down as they make a desparate last stand and which ones will go limping into the helicopters at the end?
however there are a lot of scenes along the way that, while not really being something new and amazing to the genre, carry a lot of depth just because of the way they're handled, which is what makes this movie rise above its spotty script and standard-issue plot. it could easily be a huge cheese fest, with stuff like a hardened commander seeing a burning mission and telling the copter pilot to turn around and go back, or monica bellucci not wanting to leave her peopl. it teeters now and then but overall it maintains the intensity and tension of the story so that by the end, when people are getting shot down and trying to save refugees from angry rebels, theres actually a gravity to the situation beyond just the movie telling you who's good and who's bad.
this is an example of a very good and effective war movie. i wouldnt call it action, cuz theres no real action until the end. its really along the lines of saving private ryan (lots of people compare to black hawk down too, but ive never seen that), in that it deals not so much with "good old american soldiers kicking butt" but more with personal and moral issues that come about in such a bizarre place as a combat zone. this is i think what separates a good war movie from an action flick, action movies are people generally mindlessly running around screaming and shooting and blowing things up. Tear of the Sun is mainly about the characters coming to grips with their situation, and its so well built-up that when the shooting and explosions come in later, they are there for more than their own sake. there is such gravity to the whole standoff at the end that it serves not as just The Action in an action movie, but the climax of everything that happened in the film before.
anyway this film is highly recommended, the only weak spot imo is the script.
on August 10, 2003
In reading the criticisms of this movie, here and elsewhere, my response is, TEARS OF THE SUN is a militarily based action MOVIE, not a war documentary. If all such movies were done in correct and exact military fashion without any Hollywood embellishment, only military tacticians would go see them. That said, all the information you need to know to understand the background of this film is there if you look and listen for it.
In the beginning, a newscaster reads, "In a land with 120 million people and over 250 ethnic groups, there has been a long-standing history of ethnic enmity. Particularly between the Fulani Muslims in the North and the Christian Ebo in the South." Soon afterward, mentioned are "ethnic cleansing," "ethnic unrest," and "control of Nigeria's vast oil supplies." What else is there to know about why the "war" is going on in the film?
Also told is that the US is evacuating foreign nationals. And Monica Bellucci's character is described as being, "a critical personality," code words for "from a family with money and influence." What else do you need to know about why a Seal team goes in?
The violence, gore, the emotions of the refugees and the faces of the Seals after witnessing the gore tell you the rest. The evil that men are capable of doing to other men, is something that can never be explained or understood, no matter how many expository scenes a film has.
The Serbs/Croatians in Eastern Europe. The Catholics/Protestants in Ireland. The Kurds in Iraq. The Palestinians/Jews. Tibet and China. The "background" could, unfortunately, fit any number of peoples, not only those in Africa.
OVERALL, a very well done movie, in terms of action, actually having a plot, and a cast that can carry it all off. I'm sure this film would have done better at the box office had it been released at another time. With all that's going on in the world these past couple of years, the last thing movie goers want to see is another film about war on foreign soil. Too bad for TEARS OF THE SUN, because it it deserved to do much, much better.
on July 30, 2003
At first glance, Tears of the Sun appears to be yet another war movie, but that is far from the truth. I admit that my attitude towards this movie when i first saw the preview was "seen one seen them all". I cannot tell you how wrong I was. The great thing about this movie is that not only does it have some great action sequences, but it also has an outstanding plot. Their mission is to rescue a doctor from the rebel forces who are about to attack her village. At first these stoic soldiers do not care about any of the villagers with the exception of the doctor who they have to rescue. As the soldiers witness the terrible things the rebels are capable of and how vunerable and terrified these people are, they quickly reverse their view on the entire situation and they see people as people instead of packages requied in order to complete a mission. As i said before, this movie is so much more than the typical war movie. It shows Africa at its most brutal. I recommend this movie to anyone and everyone because it is such an excellent movie.
on July 24, 2003
I rented this movie because I wanted to see Monica Bellucci, who finally seems to be a rising star over here in North America and ended up enjoying the whole thing. I normally do not like war/gun movies but I was surprised at how much I ended up loving this film.
This movie involves a team of Navy Seals who are ordered to extract a doctor, a priest and two nuns from an African country undergoing a civil war. However things hit a snag when the doctor refuses to leave the Africans who she is treating.
Bruce Willis was surprisingly good, he played a military commander with stoic resolve, but who had a heart. He and his men could obviously have left the people stranded, or not have gotten involved (which was consistent with their orders). But they stepped in and did the right thing. Monica is a bombshell, but she wasn't ridiculously or inappropriately dolled up in a manner that would be inconsistent with the movie. I was surprised that throughout the entire movie she wore a button up shirt and there were no salacious shots of her cleavage. I was also surprised that the Navy SEAL unit had two Black members. One of which was played excellently by Eamon Walker. And neither of them died!
While I feel that the movie was a bit manipulative at times playing on the heart strings of the audience. I will admit that it was a vast improvement over the "shoot em up" antics that occurred in Black Hawk Dawn (which felt like a giant video game) and which bored me to tears. Those who are looking for the same mindless madness and mayhem found in Black Hawk Down or the Matrix, might want to give this film a wide berth. Tears of the Sun differs from those movies in that the characters actually have depth.
At times tears came to my eyes as I was reminded of how The West totally ignored and stood by while countless of Rawandans were slaughtered in the name of ethnic cleansing. While they willingly interfered when the same thing was happening in Bosnia. I guess that African (Black) lives mean nothing where the UN is concerned.
I was glad to see that someone was willing to do the right thing where Africa was concerned.
Even if it was only in a Hollywood movie.
on July 15, 2003
The film originally titled, Rules of Engagement, i a very good blockbuster film. Instead of writing a synopsis for the movie, whih you can find all around me, I'll tlk about some of the extra features.
There is the 'Making of Tears of the Sun'- a great 10 minute piece on how the director made the movie, with behind the scence shots and everything. I thought it was interesting that the actors had to go though a mini-2-week SEAL boot camp.
Also in the Extras ae the delted scenes. I originally selected play all, but after 20 minutes I stopped...there are about 10-15 deleted scenes!
In addition to the deleted scenes, they have "the Voices of Africa", where real africans tell their story about their life and how they got where they are. It's a real shame that most of them have seen what the moviegoer saw in the movie in real life, an "ethni cleansing" of city. They have actually seen mass murder in front of them. A side objective for the director was to bring awareness to the aspects of life in Africa.
It opened my eyes, great DVD + lots of extras = 5/5
on July 5, 2003
The obvious point of this film is that it concerns sub-Saharan Africa's return to tribal warfare with the exodus the European colonial powers. A point for the most part wasted on European and American viewers as born out by many of the 111 reviews already posted.
What this film neglects to make clear enough for either pickup truck driving Joe Six-pack or the Volvo driving suburban Liberal is the underlying cause of the problems plaguing Nigeria are the same as Chad, Sudan and Somalia. It is that primitive Islam does not tolerate Christianity or any other religion. The victims in this film are Ibo. The Ibo have always been peaceful and they are Christian. The Hausa are warrior and they are Muslim. The Hausa Muslim ruled northern Nigeria into the 20th century when the British subdued them.
The plot was a bit of stretch, but as a veteran, I found it credible. The Navy Seals are an elite in every sense of the word. As such, their field commanders are given a bit more latitude then ordinary line officers. Actually, the Navy has a tradition that, given the right circumstances, a ship's captain can countermand even a Presidential order. That dates back to the days when communication was slow. But the principle still lives on.
The character development was superb. Willis is man caught between orders and his conscience. He has seen what happens when the blood thirsty Hausa overrun a defenseless population "of another faith" - the tactful reference repeated used in the film. He goes back and leads some villagers to safety.