"If you've seen one war movie, you've seen them all." Such as the generic nature of the war movie's being churned out by the studios today that those were the only thoughts that surfaced during my viewing of this disastrous Safari expedition into Nigeria.
Tears of the Sun takes us to the epicenter of a tumultuous period in the aforementioned African nation where a bloody coup has resulted in the murder of the President and his family, as a result of which foreign expatriates are being evacuated. In the midst of this is introduced a dreary Bruce Willis playing Lt. Walters, a US Navy Seal, who is facilitating the process of evacuation under the direct supervision of his superior (Tom Skerritt). The task at hand involves finding Dr. Kendricks (Monica Bellucci) and a handful of priests/ nuns who are also to be vacated to ensure their continued safety.
On finding their target person a dilemma ensues whereby Dr. Kendricks refuses to leave without the individuals that she has so earnestly been serving during her time with them.
What follows is a conventional tale of military humdrum activity which includes what has now become a customary scene involving our conflicted hero asking his subordinates whether they are willing to risk their lives for the mission. There is no struggle in the performances we see on screen, no belief in the predicament that is being faced. The film feels rushed, as if a deadline were being met.
At one point Bruce Willis, in an attempt to convince the Monica Bellucci character to leave with him, agrees to also arrange for the exodus of the 70 or so people that she has been harboring. So dull and lifeless are the performances during these talkative moments that you can tell a mile away that a bluff has been called. Bellucci does little more than scream and shout, and this too soon wears thin, proving what little thespian abilities she has.
It's not revealing much by mentioning that mid way through, Bruce Willis has a change of heart, simply because he realizes the consequences of his actions. Being a military personnel he should have been farsighted enough to be aware that these things may happen, not made to realize this through the course of his actions. Makes you wonder how he ever achieved the rank of a Lieutenant in the first place. If there was an ounce of truth in anything that we were shown, be it in the predicaments faced or even the sudden realization that sometimes we are dictated not by our rational thoughts but by our need to follow what we are told, then the world today would not find itself at the threshold of an impending war.
Some have praised director Antoine Fuqua (of the far superior 'Training day') for bringing into the focus what US military personnel face during combat missions in other countries. However a far more interesting and challenging screenplay would have pitted the soldiers against the cause of the strife, as was done previously in both the masterful 'Black Hawk Down' and the daring 'Three Kings'.
For all its apparent faults, there is a half-decent shoot out with guns the size of oars. This though turns out to be a classic example of 'too little, too late'. Its a shame that in these times of global distress, when Hollywood should disperse awareness about peace and tranquility, it chooses instead to glorify the actions of the power hungry nations. - Faizan Rashid