The War Zone

A watchable, though ultimately unoriginal, war film.

Though rather romantically named, "Tears of the Sun" doesn't quite come across as a particularly evocative or original war film. There are moments of gritty brutality but there isn't really an emotional connect between the audience and the characters. The reason for this lack of involvement perhaps is because we've seen it all before (the visual of the bloody sun rising is reminiscent of "Apocalypse Now").

Set in Nigeria devastated by civil war, the narrative is pretty straightforward. Lt. A.K. Waters' (Bruce Willis) mission is to rescue Dr. Lena Kendricks (Monica Bellucci), a U.S. citizen working at a Christian missionary. Unlike the hardheaded lieutenant, Dr. Kendricks refuses to forsake the village natives and implores Waters and his men to escort the villagers to the border. Waters finds himself in a moral dilemma - should he just follow orders or should he listen to his conscience? Surprisingly for a hardened war veteran, Waters undergoes a sudden change of heart and decides to put his life on the line by agreeing to undertake the risky mission.

The heroic journey is interspersed with brilliant shots of the sweeping locale and director Fuqua gives us gut-wrenching glimpses into ethnic cleansing. However, the film relies on graphic brutality for shick value and therefore falters without a thought-provoking script.

This article was first published on 12 May 2003.