Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Movie Review: Tears of the Sun (2003)

When I picked this film out for a night's entertainment, I had no idea what it was about, and moreover, had no idea that it would be so good.

A gritty tale of civil war and ethnic cleansing, this movie was by no means a popcorn flick. Very serious and also somewhat dark, I suggest that viewers use discretion, particularly with children. (And no, I must quiet your thoughts--this was not another PC statement movie. This was worth my time.)

The production value was just fine, and the film had good action sequences. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (who had his start with one of my personal favorites, The Replacement Killers) and accompanied by a fitting score of the ever-amazing Hans Zimmer, there was little to complain about.

Language was common, sex and nudity limited (counting some quick flashes of rapings*). In reply to a priest's "Go with God!", Bruce Willis's character, Lt. Waters, quips, "God already left Africa."

What I liked about the film was not so much the story as the men making their way through it. While there are women in the story of course, I felt that this was predominately a story about men--the choices they make, and the consequences that they must abide.

[SPOILER WARNING] Without revealing too much of the plot, American Spec Ops sent in to rescue a few residing non-nationals who have claims to American citizenship find their mission much less palatable than it might have been. Under Lt. Waters, the beginning actions of the soldiers are according to orders, but also at the same time somewhat reprehensible. Waters tricks one of the mission subjects, Dr, Kendricks (Persephone from the first and second Matrix films) into leaving the people she refused to leave behind. The Lieutenant then orders his men to holds the refugees at gunpoint as they prepare to board evac helicopters, abandoning them at the LZ. Long story short, Waters can't follow through, returns to take them to safety, and soon has his unit stranded along with them. All the while, hostile guerrillas are intent upon massacre. A string of moral choices follows.

Lt. Waters and his men deal with issues such as, to obey or disobey orders, to defend and protect refugees or not, etc. A great deal of the film is spent showing Waters and his men progress more and more towards the proper direction and make the correct, albeit difficult, choices. (One particular scene comes to mind, when the Lieutenant leads an attack on guerrillas in the midst of massacring a village. They justly kill all of them--though one of them, more than just a rapist, is knifed to death by an angry American soldier after being captured--but in doing so he breaks his Captain's rules of engagement.) The soldiers protect, fight, and sometimes die for the refugees.

Thus, Tears of the Sun was an unexpected vehicle that encourages the tough issues to be considered. For the Christian warrior, such considerations are not only worthwhile, they are a necessity. It was an added pleasure that this movie gave the proper answers.


* ADULTS ONLY - The few quick shots of rapings are difficult to see and obscured, but nonetheless show women in compromising positions. It is difficult to say for certain if true nudity was present, but if it was I surely missed it. Squeamish filmgoers will want to be aware that we do see a little bit of a woman's bloody chest, and it is explained that the guerrillas cut off the breasts of nursing mothers with clear intentions. Be forewarned.


Lady Neferankh said...

Yay--another movie review :D !

The film sounds interesting, albeit depressing--and I'll have to make a note of it!

I do agree about the tough choices people sometimes have to make in war, I think part of the problem, is that no matter how hard we try to think over what we would/should do in such a situation--it's a lot different when you're right there, life and death, hanging in the balance.

Thanks again for the great review! ;)

olde.fashioned said...

Stellar review, as always! And big points to you for managing to pick a goodie without knowing anything about it. ;-) That's one department I've been failing miserably in of late!

To say "very enjoyable movie" when so much of it was uncomfortable to watch sounds almost creepy, but it's true. Good movie, good music (which made the sad parts even sadder, if that's possible!), and good acting. How refreshing, too, to find yourself watching a movie that deals with moral choices! (Those are sadly few and far between, and I wish I knew of more...)

The Warrior said...

Thanks for the comments!

I noticed an error, though--Persephone was in the second and third Matrix films. I didn't mean to say first and second. Sorry!


Gravelbelly said...

Another one for the queue! Thanks.