Tears Of The Sun


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Tears Of The Sun
"As well as being politically to the right of Ghengis Khan, this is an ugly, racially disturbing, violent and inappropriate film."

As stories leak out about the way the US military behaved during the Iraq invasion, a movie such as this reinforces the fear that George W's simplistic cowboy rhetoric has transferred to the mindset of soldiers in the field. Although this takes place in Nigeria, it could be anywhere that has jungles and natives and people who aren't American. Bruce Willis's hand-picked group of heavily armed commandos treat anyone who moves as a potential enemy.

Their insensitivity is matched only by their overriding self-belief. The plot is designed as propaganda - Our Brave Boys, etc. Nigeria is in turmoil after a coup, leading to massacres, anarchy and scenes on the telly of innocents being shot in the street. Lt Waters (Willis) and his team of chisel-chinned automatons are sent into the bush to bring out a doctor, a priest and a couple of nurses, who are working in an isolated area that is about to be overrun by rebels.

Copy picture

Dr Lena Kendricks (Monica Bellucci) is an Italian and, naturally, a looker. Mr Kendricks is already dead and she says she won't leave without "my people" - the walking wounded and the children. Waters behaves as if his brain has been frozen. When he speaks, which isn't often, he says things like, "It's about getting the job done; completing the mission, that's all." She continues to wear make-up, even when the going gets rough, and her conversation is limited to "I came here with my husband; we wanted to help."

You pray for release, but there are still things to be done. They have to get through the forest, witness an atrocity in a village, where the Yanks go on a killing spree, and endure the final firefight in a corn field. War is hell. Everyone except Donald Rumsfeld knows that. War movies are heller. Or can be. Especially where there is no character development, the good guys behave like bad guys, the indigenous people are treated like rabble ("I can't look at them like packages any more," says one of the Americans) and sentimentality oozes from the body of the script, like warm sick.

As well as being politically to the right of Ghengis Khan, this is an ugly, racially disturbing, violent and inappropriate film.

The world doesn't need to be told how the modern US army behaves in the name of democracy. They can see it for real on TV. Willis acts like a tree. Bellucci should return to Europe and make proper films. Courage in the line of duty refers to the audience, still traumatised by the failure of President Bush's hard line foreign policy, while recognising that there is nothing anyone can do. If the sun cried, it would weep fire. Perhaps, that's the message.

Reviewed on: 11 Sep 2003
Share this with others on...
Tears Of The Sun packshot
Commandos tough it out in Nigeria.
Amazon link

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Writer: Alex Lasker, Patrick Cirillo

Starring: Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Cole Hauser, Eamonn Walker, Johnny Messner, Nick Chinlund, Charles Ingram, Paul Francis, Chad Smith, Tom Skerritt, Malick Bowens

Year: 2003

Runtime: 121 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


Search database:

If you like this, try:

Black Hawk Down