Navy SEAL Lieutenant A.K. Waters and his elite squadron of tactical specialists are forced to choose between their duty and their humanity, between following orders by ignoring the conflict that surrounds them, or finding the courage to follow their conscience and protect a group of innocent refugees. When the democratic government of Nigeria collapses and the country is taken over by a ruthless military dictator, Waters, a fiercely loyal and hardened veteran is dispatched on a routine mission to retrieve a Doctors Without Borders physician.
**_Solemn life-or-death jungle mission is one-note, but worthwhile for a few reasons_** A squadron of Navy Seals led by Lt. Waters (Bruce Willis) are ordered to Nigeria to remove a beautiful American doctor (Monica Belucci) from a Christian village before Islamic militants move in and annihilate 'em all. The Doctor insists that "her people" go with them and so Waters opts for leading 'em out on foot to the Cameroon border. Will they make it out alive? "Tears of the Sun" (2003) has an ultra-serious vibe and _some_ depth. If you appreciate "The 7th Dawn" (1964) with William Holden and Capucine, this is cut from the same cloth, just with modern production quality and more focus on grim jungle drama & action, like "Rambo" (2008). While it's arguably on par with "The 7th Dawn," it doesn't stand with the giants of the genre, such as "Apocalypse Now" (1979) or "Platoon" (1986). For one thing, the characters outside of those played by Willis and Belucci are relatively forgettable, which isn't the case with "Apocalypse Now" and "Platoon" wherein you know and remember the bulk of the key characters. Another good example would be "Last Of The Mohicans" (1992), which has a similar tone and theme, i.e. protagonists being chased through the forest by savage antagonists. The issue I have with "Tears of the Sun" is that it jumps right into the thick of the jungle story without allowing the viewer to get to know anyone. The theme is heavy and the vibe is fittingly serious, including the score, but because we aren't emotionally tied to the characters the picture comes across too heavy-handed and melodramatic. It doesn't help that it's one-dimensional. Meanwhile the 2-hour movie is fairly slow moving with the big-action sequence not taking place until the finale. The problem with this "exciting" climax is that the viewer, once again, doesn't care what happens at this point because we don't really know the characters and therefore have little emotional attachment. Although the story takes place in Nigeria the picture was obviously shot in Hawaii. The difference in geography is enough that the film loses points for realism, but who can deny the beauty of Hawaii? So maybe it gains the points back. The Director's Cut merely adds the deleted scenes from the Special Edition DVD to the film. In other words, unless you absolutely love the flick it's not necessary to buy the Director's Cut; just watch the deleted scenes. Speaking of the deleted scenes, there's one quietly potent scene where a black American talks with a black Nigerian. It has good dialogue and should've never been cut. Yet "Tears of the Sun" has some attributes, including the ultra-serious vibe, cinematography, score and Monica Belucci. The harrowing sequence where the squadron saves a rural village from some ruthless militants is well done. But this is far from a good film IMHO; at the same time, it's not bad and has its points of interest. Check out "Rambo" (2008) if you want to see the same theme done in a more effective manner. GRADE: B-/C+