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Title:Tears of the Sun
Release Dates:2003
Running Time:121 minutes
Formats: DVD, Video
Starring:Bruce Willis, Monica Belluci, Cole Hauser
Directed By:Antoine Fuqua
Produced By:Ian Bryce, Mike Lobell, Arnold Rifkin
Written By: Alex Lasker, Patrick Cirillo
Reviewed By:Jacob Malewitz    Buy it at Amazon.com

Starring action star Bruce Willis, Tears of the Sun is a tale of two movies. If the first part had been as ambitious as the second viewers would have surely been engaged in the characters and the fighting.

The story is set around a Navy Seals team led by A.K. Waters (Bruce Willis) sent to rescue Americans in a war torn Nigeria.

There is plenty of tension in Nigeria. At the beginning of Tears of the Sun, viewers are told the entire presidential family has been killed in a coup by a Nigerian general. The Seals mission is to save a Doctor named Lena Kendricks, a priest, and two nuns, from being killed by the rebels.

The story is quick to move to the mission, which could be construed as a mistake as viewers don’t get to know the characters before they’re embroiled in the plot. The Seals go into Nigeria and find the doctor and the other Americans at a mission. They tell her the situation, but she refuses to leave the people she was caring for at the mission behind. Waters agrees to take them with them, knowing his mission is just to save the Americans. When the group is picked up by helicopter, it is obvious to Dr. Kendricks that the Waters was lying to her. Choices are made, tears shed, and Waters agrees to take the civilians out of the war zone by land, with a vain hope his commander will agree to pick them up, which he doesn’t.

The story is appealing, but the first part of the movie doesn’t live up to what it could do. When compared to other movies like Black Hawk Down and We Were Soldiers, the level of the story and the acting isn’t as good – in the beginning. The cinematography won’t take anyone’s breath away regularly, but at times can be moving.

Bruce Willis puts in a commendable performance as a Navy Seal with a heart. He doesn’t want to leave these people to die, but the odds are against him, and, like in all war movies, many do die.

The second part of the movie has a life of its own, and makes Tears of the Sun close to being a classic war movie. The conflicts rise within the Seal team and, though they don’t turn, each man realizes he is risking his life for people who they weren’t ordered to save.

The Nigerians rebels close on the Seal team and the people they are trying to protect. Everyone thinks this is the end. The final battle scene, which has much sacrifice, is almost as good as anything a viewer can see in terms of realism and desperation.

As Waters said after being thanked by Dr. Kendricks: “It wasn’t about saving your life. [It was about] getting the job done, completing the mission.” But Waters becomes a true hero by saving people he has no orders to save. He decides to complete this mission.

The first part of the movie lacks everything that makes the second part so entertaining. If creators behind it had developed the life found in the second part in the first, it would be comparable to modern classics like We Were Soldiers and Black Hawk Down. In the end, it is definitely worth seeing as a portrait of modern warfare.

Jacob Malewitz  is the Arts & Entertainment editor for The Lookout, and runs two blogs: www.jacobmalewitz.blogspot.com, for writers, and www.areaderseye.blogspot.com, for readers.

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