Navy SEALS are sent to the Nigerian jungle to rescue an American
doctor from rebels only to realize they have to save her patients too.
Tears of the Sun (2003)
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Written by Alex Lasker and Patrick Cirillo
Starring Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Cole Hauser, Eamonn Walker, Johnny Messner, Nick Chinlund, Charles Ingram, Paul Francis,
Chad Smith, Tom Skerritt, Sammi Rotibi, Akosua Busia
Tears of the Sun is a heartfelt film about humanity and the kindness that most people feel towards one another. The problem is that Tears of the Sun doesn't become that film until about halfway through. Up to that point, this film is your typical "Hoo-rah" war movie with interchangeable soldier characters and a visibly disinterested Bruce Willis leading the charge into the Nigerian wilderness. It takes the brutality of the Nigerian rebels to knock this film out of Top Gun territory and into attempted Saving Private Ryan gravitas.
Bruce Willis portrays Lt. Waters, the leader of a Navy SEAL team tasked with rescuing Dr. Lena Kendricks (Monica Bellucci) from a post-coup Nigeria. Only problem is she won't leave without her patients, who aren't the military's problem. What follows is a dull struggle to do the right thing which ends exactly as you'd expect it to. Around this time, things take a serious turn and the film actually starts to get somewhat interesting. Dramatic tension starts to rise, emotional investment finally takes hold, and we get a final battle that's surprisingly poignant. If only the performances had reflected the same level of poignance. Apart from the actors portraying the refugees, I didn't feel any drama emanating from almost the entire cast. Except for Nick Chinlund. It was nice to see him play a good guy for once.
In the end, I'd classify Tears of the Sun as your average war film that tries to bite off more than it can chew. It wants to be Apocalypse Now in Africa, but the caliber of actors involved doesn't warrant that level of emotionality. There's a reason nobody's talked about this film in 14 years. It fell under the radar because it never made any blips to begin with.