TEARS OF THE SUN is literally laughably bad. For those who see American
soldiers as insensitive killing machines who can only do good if they disobey
direct orders, you will find your prejudices reinforced by this ludicrous
picture. Although it is supposed to be an action film, it is, for the most
part, ponderously slow, as Lt. Waters (Bruce Willis) and company wander through
the jungle, making one stupid move after another.
The story involves a mission into Nigeria after rebels have killed the entire
presidential family. Lt. Waters and his men are airlifted deep into the jungle
in order to extract a single person, Dr. Lena Hendricks (Monica Bellucci), a
humanitarian doctor who isn't an America but was married to one. Why we would
send troops in to rescue just this one person while ignoring the thousands of
other Americans there is never answered. It makes no sense whatsoever, which is
on par with the logic of the rest of the movie.
In a film this preposterous, it's impossible to list even a fraction of the
silly moments, but I'll give you a few examples.
Whenever Lt. Waters's captain (Tom Skerritt), back on the aircraft carrier,
wants to speak to Lt. Waters in the heat of battle, the captain takes his phone
to the noisiest part of ship, right next to jets taking off and landing. In
reality, the deafening noise would make communication impossible, but they have
no trouble hearing each other.
Although the lieutenant is supposed to bring back only the doctor in the
helicopter, he risks the lives of his troops by taking her and several dozen
locals in a long march through rebel-held territory. The soldiers are extra
careful to make no noise whatsoever, yet they let the natives sing loudly as
Sometimes, the soldiers get into a stealthy position before firing, but, at
other times, they make the same mistakes that the redcoats did in the
revolutionary war. Standing straight up and in a line, they walk while blasting
away at the trees. Meanwhile, in the dense forest all around them, well-hidden
enemy soldiers fire back. Luckily, the soldiers on other side are really bad
Now let's get down to basics. The American military, who sent in this team,
refuse to provide them any air support until the very end, after many of our
soldiers have needlessly died. The brass could be court-martialed for this, and
CNN, who probably would be reporting about it as it happened, would have the
Why does Lt. Waters disobey orders -- and thereby get many of his men killed in
the process? "When I figure it out, I'll let you know," he tells his
second-in-command. I wish the studio had figured out the story more before they
greenlit the movie. The script should have been at least rewritten and
TEARS OF THE SUN runs a long 2:01. It is rated R for "strong war violence, some
brutality and language" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes