[MOVIE REVIEW]Willis’s star power falls as ‘Tears of the Sun’ setsThe premise seems simple enough: Combine bits and pieces of “Saving Private Ryan” and “Black Hawk Down,” two of the better war movies in recent years that depicted the heroism of soldiers under fire and behind enemy lines, toss in a conflicted leader debating the morality of his orders, and “Tears of the Sun” had all the makings of a great film.
But beginning with authentic footage of a militant African rebel gunning down a civilian on the street, “Tears of the Sun” gets off to a somehow inappropriate start. In a world at war, and with anti-Americanism at a fever pitch even on its own shores, there needed to be a movie of depth, showing the full extent of the sacrifice and commitment of the men and women of the armed forces.
“Tears of the Sun” is not that movie. Contrived and facile, what was envisioned as a new “Saving Private Ryan” comes off as a rehash of the ridiculous “Behind Enemy Lines.”
Set in a war-torn Nigeria, where a coup d’etat has left the leaders of the democratically elected government dead, the largely Muslim rebels have begun the systematic cleansing of all Christians. Among those placed in danger is the American doctor Lena Kendricks (Monica Bellucci) working at a mission, as well as the two nuns and priest stationed there.
Sent in to rescue those “non-indigenous personnel” before the rebels arrive at the mission are Lieutenant A.K. Waters (Bruce Willis) and a team of elite navy SEAL operatives. They have little difficulty in locating the doctor, but she stubbornly refuses to leave those in her care. In order to appease her, Waters agrees to lead a train of refugees through the jungle. But when the helicopters arrive for extraction it becomes clear that he had no intention of taking them along. As the team takes off with their “package” secure, a flyover of the mission reveals a bloody mess left by the rebels in their wake. A conflicted Waters then orders the choppers turned around and agrees to lead the refugees to safety.
Bruce Willis, in what was supposed to be his return to the action genre, gives an uneven performance and is completely overshadowed by Monica Bellucci’s breasts ― the doctor, while nagging Waters every half-hour to allow the people to rest, doesn’t take the three seconds necessary to button her blouse.
Missing the realism of “Black Hawk Down” and the character development of “Saving Private Ryan,” “Tears” is by no means unenjoyable, but it lacks what made those other two movies so great. Waters’s decision to disobey orders comes off as a laughable plot device. Also problematic of “Tears” is the complete lack of character development for anyone but Waters, causing the team members to become so interchangeable that when one dies, the viewer feels nothing for the sacrifice.
by Steven Lee