Willis as always is yet another shade, another degree, another facet of an accomplished actor who is striving for a versatility that is ingratiating.
The film was incredible because it so accurately dealt with the murky complexity of war. Suddenly on a simple mission to snatch 4 missionaries out of a hospital village that is in the line of the now killer spree military, Willis's small force finds themselves with loads of moral dilemmas. Belluci won't go without her patients and three of the missionaries refuse to go at all so strong is their commitment to the African people they tend. To get them moving Willis lies to Belluci and then can't live with the lie when they leave behind dozens of helpless people. What drove me in this film is what would I do, what is the military's responsibility, what is a human being's responsibility to another? Do we just abandon each other on "orders" or political ties that may not even touch us personally or is every life valuable?
When this film came out, the Iraq attack was on and people were literally screaming in the streets about kill, kill, kill.
War is an abomination. It is literally the raping of the human race as an action to take against another. And yet we not only do it but produce it as entertainment. What made this film stand out, I generally don't go to war films nor gangster films, is that the very message of this film is about the people who are caught in between all of this drama. People who are just drinking a glass of water, raising their families, tending their fields.
The film also demands a conclusive answer to a central question, a presupposition of war----you must be able to kill women and children. Put a gun to their heads or allow them to die. And there comes a point when the soldiers can not do this, nor watch it be done. That's what makes this film stand out and why I heartily recommend it to people who don't get off on war, on gore, on watching the pantomime of people dying.
I cried during the movie because I knew that a few thousand miles to the East people, just normal folk, were being slaughtered much as the people in the film were, simply for being caught between two armies/ideologies.
Akosua Busia plays one of the rescued villagers, she was Celie's sister in the Color Purple and did a heavy re-write on Beloved the screenplay. She is a commendable actress though her part here has to embody such positive African sentiment that it does seem maudlin, or too "cloying" of gratitude. She is an excellent actress and the best twist of all is how Belluci's character makes it clear, without regards to race, that these are HER people and she will not be safe if they aren't safe. And it soon becomes apparent during the film that she will even lie to the American soldiers to protect her adopted people. That form of not simply heroism but diverging from the norm stance----a character willing to die, to put it all on the line without even having a weapon for the racial "other" is wondrous thing to see.
I also recommend the soundtrack which is moving and haunting and foreboding and as lush as the jungle these people move through. I enjoyed Antoine Fuqua's direction, particularly the African military being portrayed as a force so intent, so massive that literally the only thing that saves anyone from them is a deux ex machina. The title Tears of the Sun literally refers to the final ten minutes of the movie when the whole world has gone to hell and a battle breaks out that can't be won. I also like a good chase film, where someone is being chased and must compensate for the fact that they are outnumbered or outgunned.
This is a classic film and I don't use that lightly----particularly for the timeframe that it's come out in.
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