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,