PSIPOOK | reviews |



Tears of the Sun
Action/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/118mins
Starring: Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Sony Pictures

Tears of the Sun is an action movie with compassion. I don’t mean that the good guys let some of bad guys live — there’s precious little mercy in the violence. I mean that director Antoine Fuqua is making a brave attempt to step outside the remit of the standard Hollywood shoot-‘em-up and take on some real-world issues.

There is a coup in Nigeria and the country goes into meltdown with rival military groups warring and massacring civilians of any differing ethnicity. The US evacuates its own citizens and so it is that Navy SEAL Lt. Waters, a.k.a. Bruce Willis, is dropped into the maelstrom to rescue an American aid worker Dr. Lena Kendricks (Monica Belluci). However, when Waters to sees the humanitarian disaster on the ground he decides to disobey orders and get at least a handful of doomed refugees out of the country. Then things get complicated.

Tears of the Sun feels like two movies. One feels like a film that asks how the West can remain disengaged from such extremes of brutality and in which the actors hint at some real sympathy with their roles — witness Willis struggling with Water’s conscience. The other film is stock shoot-‘em-up and wooden characterisation — the only depth in Belucci’s role is in the cleavage revealed by her absurdly low cut T-shirt.

You can see Fuqua’s tactic here: fill the seats with the promise of action and chicks then hit the audience with a reality check.

The violence Fuqua is talking about does not exist in a bubble, it is part of a larger package of problems that beset poor countries, and Fuqua’s grasp of the issues does not go beyond the machete and the machine gun. What could have been a meaningful exploration of the West’s relationship with these damaged countries or a powerful depiction of people in extremis turns into a long numbing gun battle that does nothing more than champion good ol’ mission accomplished values and leaves the audience wondering how the ending could be so far removed from the earler promise of the movie.

Review by Chris Page


Close this window to return to the reviews page

e-mail Psilocybe P. Pook: