Film Reviews


By • Mar 7th, 2003 •

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Columbia Pictures / Revolution Studios presents a Michael Lobell / Cheyenne Enterprises production
Running time — 118 minutes / MPAA rating: R

In 2001, American Christian aid workers, Heather Mercer and Dayna Curry, held in an Afghanistan Taliban prison for 100 days, were rescued by U.S. Special Forces after the fall of Kabul. From all the accounts, Mercer and Curry were overjoyed. I thought about this highly publicized rescue while watching TEARS OF THE SUN unfold.

Doctors Without Borders Dr. Lena Kendricks (Monica Bellucci, with full bosomed jungle décolleté – next time I go to the jungle I want to take her stylist with me) is an Italian doctor hell-bent on staying with her wounded patients in war-torn Nigeria. The fierce rebels, who machete off breasts and rape and murder with glee, do not deter Dr. Lena’s dedication one bit. Dr. Lena, along with two nuns and a priest, do not want to be saved by a U.S. multi-million dollar military rescue operation. They say no to the highly skilled team stealthily brought in to save their lives from vicious rebels coming their way.

Navy S.E.A.L. Lt. A. K. Waters (Bruce Willis, with all the water dieted from his grave, stoic face) has to hoodwink Dr. Lena to leave her hospital hut. He goes against specific orders and agrees to a mass rescue of the ambulatory, though the priest and nuns refuse to leave the disabled, and stay behind. Dr. Lena demands Waters rescue all the refugees so, in an act of silliness, twelve villagers get in the helicopter while the good doctor, the S.E.A.L. team, and the remaining villagers make their way through the jungle to a safe haven in Cameroon. The rebels follow.

My husband, referencing my unpopular, loud complaint about THE TWO TOWERS, whispered to me: “Another long march.”

The nobility of the refugees and the blessedness of the S.E.A.L. team showed the unnecessary, heavy handedness of the screenplay by Alex Lasker and Patrick Cirillo. Having Bruce Willis as a star necessitates some embarrassing but required elements I wish directors would film but edit out of the final product: The frequent iconic shots of Willis’s stern face, Dr. Lena looking dreamily at Willis, and the final wrap up of the refugees bowing down to Willis and his men. How about the howler shot of a bloodied Willis’s head cradled to Dr. Lena’s heaving chest? And what about the member of Water’s S.E.A.L. team who tells him he identifies with the Nigerian refugees instead of the country that gave him the opportunity to become a skilled soldier?

John, my husband, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War jungle, gave TEARS OF THE SUN high marks for technical accuracy. The Hawaiian production gives the film an authentic, humid and wet feel. Director Antoine Fuqua (TRAINING DAY) gives the entire film a haunting look and a menacing soundtrack frames the narrative in an effective way. However, an overly sentimental, arch screenplay detracts from Fuqua’s previously exhibited strengths as a director.

Lt. A.K. Waters: Bruce Willis
Dr. Lena Kendricks: Monica Bellucci
“Red” Atkins: Cole Hauser
“Zee” Pettigrew: Eamonn Walker
Kelly Lake: Johnny Messner
“Slo” Slowenski: Nick Chinlund
“Silk” Owens: Charles Ingram
Capt. Rhodes: Tom Skerritt

Director: Antoine Fuqua
Screenwriters: Alex Lasker, Patrick Cirillo
Producers: Michael Lobell, Arnold Rifkin, Ian Bryce
Executive producer: Joe Roth
Director of photography: Mauro Fiore
Production designer: Naomi Shohan
Music: Hans Zimmer
Costume designer: Marlene Stewart
Editor: Conrad Buff

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