Waiting for the Sun

Tears of the Sun
Starring Bruce Willis and Monica Belluci. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, Rated R. Tinseltown, Paradise Cinema 7, Feather River Cinemas
Rated 3.0 Fresh off of the urban landscape of Training Day, director Antoine Fuqua trades in the concrete jungle for a literal one in this oddly serene war flick.

After the leadership of Nigeria falls to a bloody coup, stoic warrior Bruce Willis and his crack team of Navy SEALs are sent into the jungle to extradite an American doctor (Monica Belluci) doing missionary work in the wilds before the bloodthirsty rebel troops fall on her. Of course, the doctor isn’t too keen on leaving her wards behind as machete bait, so she coerces Willis and his team to extract the villagers with them. Beating a path through the vegetation on the way to the helicopter rendezvous, the warriors are confronted with the atrocities being committed and must decide whether to follow orders or to get involved in a matter that by the rules doesn’t involve them. It doesn’t help matters much that an entire army of rebels are in unrelenting hot pursuit for some reason …

Tears of the Sun is for the most part a quietly contemplative action movie, moving along at its own pace, slowly building up the tension until it explodes into a combustive climax. Willis here is at his most minimalist, and yet one can still sense his muted humanity finally reawakening through cracking stoicism.

On the downside (or upside, depending on your politics), Tears of the Sun is unapologetically jingoist, offering up the most angelic team of soldiers this side of a John Wayne flick (I mean, at no point do any of these men even seem to notice Belluci’s constant battle to keep her breasts from popping out of the plunging neckline of her T-shirt).

Very well-crafted, but with casting call stock villains and a disconcerting absence of any moral complexity (it’s pretty much a no-brainer that they’re actually going to disobey orders and get involved), Tears of the Sun is a throwback to the propaganda era of war film, but with more gore and better pyrotechnics.