Must Hear Music
Reviews Archives
Bargain Basement
Music DVD
Send Us Mail
Contact Us

Tears Of The Sun (R)
Sony Pictures
Official Site
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Producers: Ian Bryce, Mike Lobell, Arnold Rifkin
Written by: Alex Lasker & Patrick Cirillo
Cast: Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Cole Hauser, Chad Smith, Nick Chinlund, Fionnula Flanagan, Eamonn Walker, Malick Bowens, Rodney Charles

Rating: out of 5

Based on previews of Tears Of The Sun, my more conspiracy-minded friends have complained to me that this film is not simply a mid-spring major motion picture release. Instead, they suggest it’s a very timely piece of propaganda that glorifies warfare and seeks to infect the minds of our youth; a powerful pop culture tool at a time when our country is on the brink of invading Iraq. At first glance, there does appear to be some justifiable reason for these concerns. Off screen, Willis is an avowed Republican, and in this most recent effort he is playing yet again another Rambo-type action hero possessed of a no-nonsense, get-the-job-done-right attitude. (And there is a tendency to think Americans have a sole lock on these attributes.) But after watching this film, I’d like to offer some reassurances.  One needed worry about carefully crafted jingoism here.

Bruce Willis plays Lieutenant A.K. Waters (possibly the oldest lieutenant you’ll ever see), an S.E.A.L. commando sent into the jungles of Nigeria to rescue American doctor Lena Hendricks (Bellucci). Jungle fighting has come a long way since Vietnam. Armed not only with superior weaponry, but laptop computers with satellite connections and wireless phones, Willis has a clear idea of where the enemy is and he keeps his C.O. well-informed. This includes violating orders from his superior officer by deciding the mission is not simply about getting a job done, but about saving lives. Willis decides to rescue not only the American doctor, but a small group of refugees who will be slaughtered if they stay behind.  And so Willis and the rag-tag group of Nigerians stumble off into the jungle toward Cameroon in a desperate effort to make it to the nearest border. 

This movie is legitimately bad for a variety of reasons: The more obvious ones include bad cinematography and insipid dialogue. The scenes shot in the nighttime jungle are so dark, it’s almost impossible to make out any of the action or who’s doing what to whom. And the script is embarrassingly stupid. Willis mutters lines like, “I broke my own rule, I started to give a fuck.” There also isn’t a spark of chemistry between Willis and Bellucci, and their antagonistic relationship grows tiresome within the first 20 minutes of the film. Willis is in fact, trying to save the group from a contingent of angry-looking Nigerian soldiers who are relentlessly following them through the jungle. But Lena seems unaware of this minor detail and spends most of the time haranguing Willis for not allowing anyone to take a breather. Let’s face it, most people would recognize the immediacy of danger but Bellucci seems to always need Willis to light a fire under her ass. 

But the worst sins of this film are not these frank violations of basic cinematic formula. More egregiously, this film offends through its subtle themes of paternalism and racism. In a way, this film reinforces the idea that people in poor countries are barbaric and incapable of helping themselves. What’s happening in several African countries today is nothing less than wide-scale genocide, but Tears Of The Sun minimizes these serious issues with its simplistic dialogue. These real-life atrocities are referred to as “ethnic cleansing” and no insight is ever provided as to how or why civil wars are tearing apart not only Nigeria but other parts of the African continent. The closest the film ever comes to explaining this sorry phenomenon comes when a soldier from Willis’s unit stammers, “How can they do this?” to which the local villager replies, “This is what they do.” This is hardly insightful, but one-dimensional exchanges like this make up the bulk of the film.

Tears Of The Sun may seem like a timely piece of propaganda for those of us who live in a country with a president hell-bent on invading the Middle East, but trust me, this film deals with its subject matter so incompetently, it doesn’t matter how one feels about war at all. Peacenik or hawk, this film will alienate both.

—Nancy Semin


hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

Mike Doughty

none now

South By Southwest 2014
David DeVoe

South By Southwest 2013
David DeVoe

Red Hook Music Festival
George Dow

SXSW 2012
David DeVoe

Our Favorite Records 2011
Hybrid Staff

Rachel Fredrickson

Rachel Fredrickson

Warped Tour 2011
Rachel Fredrickson

Eddie Spaghetti
Melissa Skrbic-Huss

Murder By Death
Mike DeLeo

Mike Doughty
Boulder, CO

Denver, CO

Imagine Dragons
Denver, CO

Cambridge, MA

Young Magic
Denver, CO

Warped Tour 2012
Denver, CO

Denver, CO

Mike Doughty
Denver, CO

Kansas City, MO

Other Lives
Lawrence, KS

Los Campesinos
Boston, MA

The Civil Wars
Lawrence, KS

Ha Ha Tonka
Lawrence, KS

Lawrence, KS

hybridmagazine.com is updated daily except when it isn't.
New film reviews are posted every week like faulty clockwork.
Wanna write for hybrid? Send us an e-mail.
© 1996-2009 [noun] digital media. All rights reserved worldwide. All content on hybridmagazine.com and levelheadedmusic.com is the intellectual property of Hybrid Magazine and its respective creators. No part of hybridmagazine.com or levelheadedmusic.com may be reproduced in any format without expressed written permission. For complete masthead and physical mailing address, Click Here.