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TEARS OF THE SUN

A super-tough SEAL lieutenant attempts to rescue a beautiful American doctor from a genocidal bloodbath in Nigeria, but she refuses to go with him unless he agrees to take along her patients.

CAST: Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Cole Hauser, Eamonn Walker, Nick Chinlund, Fionnula Flanagan, Malick Bowens, Tom Skerritt

DIRECTOR: Antoine Fuqua

"The film is a strictly no-bull proposition: Bruce Willis, who never met a quip he didn't like, has been enjoined to keep his yap shut and play his team leader's role with wary grace and almost pure silence. I don't think he cracks wise even once. He just looks, as soldiers do and are, really tired most of the time. He doesn't even kiss the girl, and since the girl is Monica Bellucci, that gives you some idea of his discipline!…There's no speechifying, and when the guys go to the radio, the militarese they spout has the terse poetics of the actual stuff…Fuqua also recognizes the weird beauty of soldiers. Whether this is homoerotic or just erotic, I am not sure…This film offers up a good portfolio of what might be called commando calendar art: It's full of dirty, haggard men in sweaty camouflage battle dress, festooned with ammo belts and tattoos, laboring under a load of automatic weapons that would break a donkey's back, who look simply gorgeous." --Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post

"There’s a sequence about midway through the movie, as the Americans come across a village where a few dozen rebel soldiers are engaging in the sort of ethnic cleansing one would like to think simply isn't possible in a civilized world, that's about as harrowing as anything likely to show up on movie screens this year…It's a shame the filmmakers weren't always able to resist their baser instincts, throwing in cheap cinematic shots that only take away from the film's nobler urges. Casting the classically beautiful Bellucci as a jungle doctor didn't have to be as silly as it sounds; in fact, she throws herself into the role with gusto, evincing mettle that matches anything Willis can do. But dressing her in a button-down shirt strategically open to the third or fourth button is cheap and gratuitous, undermining both her performance and the movie itself." --Chris Kaltenbach, The Baltimore Sun

"Antoine Fuqua, who directed the fine ‘Training Day,’ reportedly set out to make a serious movie about African genocide, but was pressured by his hawkish star into turning out a schmaltzy ode to U.S. military involvement that tacitly endorses the impending Iraqi invasion…The result is a sluggish, confused flick with a frighteningly taciturn Willis in ‘Die Hard’/John Wayne mode--the Wayne of ‘The Green Berets,’ not ‘The Searchers’…The film leaves the inescapable impression that Walters is motivated less by humanitarian reasons than Dr. Kendricks' habit of forgetting to fully button her blouse." --Lou Lumenick, The New York Post

"The filmmakers chose to invent their own third-world conflict, and rather than follow the time-honored Hollywood tradition of confecting some wholly fictitious San Something-or-other or Whereverstan, they decided to plunge the actual nation of Nigeria into bloody chaos…the movie's real setting is a sentimental fantasy world, and its story is a spectacularly incoherent exercise in geopolitical wish fulfillment…The Americans come upon a village in the middle of a massacre and, with furious professionalism, cleanse it of ethnic cleansers. Then they reconnoiter and declare their willingness to sacrifice their lives to bring their charges to safety, and their resolve is met with tears of gratitude. The audience's tears are more likely to result from boredom, irritation at Hans Zimmer's wretched fake-world-music score and inadvertent amusement at the thunderously earnest dialogue and Ms. Bellucci's awkward line readings. (She has now made movies in three languages; whether she can act in any of them is an open question.)" --A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"The movie’s noble aspirations are clear—Bosnia and Rwanda were obviously on the filmmakers’ minds—yet it’s hopelessly steeped in stale Hollywood action conventions…Director Antoine Fuqua, who did well with ‘Training Day,’ flip-flops here between slaughter and solemnity, and his unvarying adagio pace only gives the cliches more time to expose themselves. And just now ‘Tears of the Sun’ plays shamelessly into the hands of the Iraq war hawks, down to the on-screen Edmund Burke quote that ends the film: ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ Was this what the filmmakers had in mind when they started?" --David Ansen, Newsweek

"…a surprisingly anti-authoritarian version of a hero's story, casting Willis as the ultimate military pragmatist, who prizes expediency and completion of mission above all else. But after exposure to this particular strain of man's inhumanity to man, he suddenly realizes that his orders and his duty are two different things. It's a bold notion to be offering in these times…It's the kind of movie where five guys with handguns and grenades, with only tall grass as their cover, can hold off an entire army equipped with machine guns…Willis is in tough, terse mode, a stoic struggling to suppress his own humanity. Bellucci is mostly pouty; as a doctor meant to appear stubbornly sacrificing, she seems mostly like a participant in the Barbies Without Borders program." --Marshall Fine, The Journal News

"Whatever else this movie is about -- and it most obviously is about shooting, killing and blowing things up – ‘Tears’ is most concerned with humanization…The film is set up so we're happy when the S.E.A.L. unit violates its orders…Rwanda is never mentioned, but its horrors -- and the world's shame for looking the other way -- is never far from mind…
What's noteworthy is that ‘Tears’ is simultaneously a gripping action tale and a plea for a policy of engagement, of humanitarian intervention, in parts of the world where oil is not at stake. It isn't the type of war movie we expect, and we certainly don't expect Willis, a George W. Bush supporter, to star in it." --Eric Harrison, Houston Chronicle

"It has a stronger sense of combat's real costs and consequences than more sensationalistic pictures like ‘Black Hawk Down’ and ‘We Were Soldiers’ provide. Too bad it doesn't take as much care to detail the humanity of its characters--or reasons for its politics--as it does to build ominous battlefield moods." --David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor