Action Heroes – Willis: Tears Of The Sun

Dreading the absolute worst, I have to watch Tears of the Sun for the first time ever and it looks like it might upset me somewhat. This is Hollywood getting involved in the African question as Bruce Willis’ Lt A.K. Waters is sent into Nigeria to rescue Monica Bellucci’s Dr Lena Kendricks. Personally I have no problem with the concept of a tactical extraction unit going in to save Bellucci as she’s very attractive and worth the effort. The problem I have is when Hollywood scriptwriters attempt to moralise and comment on a continent that they really have no right to even contemplate.

Ethnic cleansing is going on in Nigeria as fictional tribes attempt to wipe each other out of existence. In the middle of all of this is Bellucci and her less than fortunate patients. Thankfully Bruce and his boys are sent in to get her out only to find that she refuses to leave all those under her care behind. So being a softy underneath, Bruce decides to channel Moses and lead the tribe through the jungle to freedom. Naturally things go a little pear-shaped and they’re forced to march to the border with Cameroon whilst being tracked by those nasty warlords.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua who gave us the seriously overrated Training Day, what we sadly have here is a film taking itself far too seriously. Platoon was a load of political nonsense but at least Stone had been in Vietnam so he can have his say, all be it with hysterical claptrap. Tears of the Sun is nothing more than glossy melodrama masquerading as a hardened action film. They attempt to make Bellucci look less than stunning by throwing some fake dirt on her face but this hardly amounts to reality. Willis on the other hand is badly miscast and does a lot of army gestures with his hands to try and make up for it.

Tropic Thunder may indeed be an utter pile of rubbish but it’s about as valid as this load of trash could ever imagine being. The genocide that happens in the film is strangely concocted when they simply could have based it in Rwanda or numerous other African states. The Americans are once again portrayed as virtuous under pressure with orders being bent when it comes to civilian lives and doing the right thing. The sad truth remains that where Africa is concerned, the West has little to no interest in anything that happens there unless their hands are forced. This lauding of SEALS is in some ways no better than the atrocious Charlie Sheen film from the 90s aptly titled Navy SEALS.

The action sequences are ordinary at best and the dialogue and acting follow suit, never rising above the banal. One the plus side, the photography is excellent with nice locations exploited for as much value as possible. But having found Training Day mostly dull and over indulgent, I can say little that’s positive about Antoine Fuqua’s directorial style as he seems to think that his output is far more important than I do. Two years on he made King Arthur which might be one of the worst films ever made.

Personally I have never bought into Bruce Willis as an action hero. Die Hard 1 and 2 and Last Man Standing aside, all his films within the genre are mostly awful or plain dull.  Personally I prefer him in films such as Mortal Thoughts, Nobody’s Fool and Unbreakable as it points to an actor who might actually have something to offer. But as this turgid pile of crap was produced by Willis himself you do have to question exactly what he was thinking. As the credits rolled and the embarrassing message of freedom was explained I personally wished The Wild Geese would roll in and obliterate everyone just for the fun of it.

Aled Jones

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