Movie Review

Tears of the Sun

MPAA Rating: R for strong war violence, some brutality and language

Reviewed by: Tim Emmerich
STAFF WRITER

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adult
Genre:
Action/Drama
Length:
2 hr. 1 min.

Starring: Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Cole Hauser, Fionnula Flanagan, Tom Skerritt | Directed by: Antoine Fuqua | Produced by: Mike Lobell, Arnold Rifkin, Bruce Willis | Written by: Patrick Cirillo, Alex Lasker | Distributor: Revolution Studios

Copyright, Revolution Studios
Copyright, Revolution Studios
 

One could take away from this film a lesson on morality regardless of the cost. This film does a good job of demonstrating the principle of consequences for your actions. Depending on your perspective, one could also take away a sense of frustration since the team has apparently disobeyed orders. While depicting acts of war, this movie contains extreme and brutal violent, depicting murdered and butchered people. There is a scene of rape and another with cruelty to a woman. As is typical for war-type movies, there is harsh and foul language. Lots of it. Mix in lots of bullets and some explosions, and you get the idea.

The Story

In Nigeria, the Muslim forces have overthrown the government. Further, they are killing all the Christians and people who’s religion differs from theirs. Actually, a more appropriate word would be slaughtering. Key American personnel are being asked to leave the country. And in some cases they send the Navy Seals in to retrieve the “package”. For “Tears of the Sun”, the main package is Dr. Lena Kendricks, a doctor working along side some missionaries in a small, country hospital. Along with the main package (Dr. Kendricks), they get another important person in tow as they try to make it to the border.

Concerns

From a Christian perspective, prepare to be offended. The language is poor with many of the soldiers saying a variety of curses and taking the Lord’s name in vain. For you to think on pure thoughts, these will intrude. One could try justifying the violence to accurately depict war-time acts. However, there is lots of violence and much directed toward innocent citizens. There is lots of blood and gruesome details in the makeshift hospital. It shows recently amputated limbs.

Later, a knifing and a beheading (thankfully the camera cuts away at the last second). Lots of bodies everywhere and a small pool of blood for the many that died at one small village. There was the one rape but worst was the rebels cutting the breasts off of nursing mothers so they can’t feed their infant children. These images may be disturbing to you and affect your Christian walk.

Conclusions

Some observations throughout the movie. Why does Water’s Commanding Officer always call from a very active flight deck of a carrier? I find it hard to believe anyone can hear him! Usually, disobeying an order would yield harsh penalties. This film depicts none. The disobedience was done to save the refugees and Dr. Kendricks. Or you could say that Waters followed them in a different manner than was intended? Waters says at one point “God already left Africa.”

In summary, “Tears of the Sun” is a movie that demonstrates the atrocities that can be committed during war. Further, a lesson in consequences to your actions is powerful. But, it does it in a manner that may be over the top for some. Use discernment to decide to rent this movie or not. From this reviewer’s perspective, the good is outweighed by the anti-Christian atrocities. So, in general, probably pass “Tears of the Sun” up.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

Year of Release—2003


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Neutral—I very much keep my movie watching in check. While he has made some very objectionable movies, Bruce Willis is a good actor. He he is in top form, and he embodies sort of an “everyman.” While he is a soldier, he is not a “super hero.” Matter of fact, we can see the rigors of the mission in his eyes and appearance. Toward the end of the movie, he looks absolutely haggard. We also see the struggle of the inner man, who is witnessing atrocity against mankind and is torn between following orders and his heart. I was pleased that the film makers didn’t give us a mindless “action flick.” There is much violence depicted in the movie, but I felt none of it was gratuitous. And as far as war movies, the violence wasn’t as explicit as that depicted in Saving Private Ryan, which is sort of the bar for war movies as far as I’m concerned. There is foul language as one would expect in a film of this nature, but I didn’t feel it was excessive. Overall, I found this to be a piece of good film making, that isn’t necessary a “feel good movie,” but will move your heart toward the welfare of persecuted fellow man and the weak.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Scott, age 28
Positive—I’ve been a soldier since I turned 17. As such, I love a good military movie, and detest the ones that get it wrong. “Tears of the Sun” was excelent. But it was not what I expected. Sure, it contained lots of exciting military tough guy action, but the moral message was devastatingly heart rending. The story takes place in Nigeria, where “Muslim” mobs have been rampaging; murdering, raping and mutilating Christians in remote villages. I’m talking real life here. One scene in which the SEAL team rescues a group of villagers from rampaging rebels had my girlfriend (who was a missionary in Burkina Faso) weeping for the plight of the people. And I admit I had a hard time keeping my eyes dry. The movie ends with the well known, much misused, but still powerful quote, “All that is needed for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” Well put, and brutally, emotionally and effectively dramatized here.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Oscar Schneegans, age 27
Positive—I saw and loved Tears of the Sun… It was a great action flick depicting the realness of war and showing true heroism and courage through Willis. He risked his life to save many others. It was very violent, but it was also very honest in showing how terrible war is. Personally it helped me, in that I now detest war, and I wish to help its victims.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Caleb Turner, age 13
Positive—Families should not see this movie. But then this movie should not be watched for entertainment purposes. I would hope that Christians would be more offended by the woman who was raped and mutilated than by the cussing. God broke my heart with this movie. My heart was broken for the people of the world who truly suffer, and also for men who are forced to choose between following orders and saving people’s lives. Both of these things happen more than we could know. I’ll never watch the movie again, but God used it in my life to cultivate a deeper compassion for the world.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Natalie, age 24
Positive—This is one very impressive piece of cinematography. Visually it’s stunning, but more importantly, it has behind it a realistic, non-politically correct, thoughtful worldview (how many action/war movies have a world view at all?). The missionary character in this movie is not built up enough to provide a real glimpse at her life, but the movie itself is filled with a “missionary” spirit. I just returned from an extended stay as a missionary in a third world country that is 96% muslim, and the feelings and thoughts evoked by this movie are similar to those that came while I was there. If you go into this movie looking for anything more than just an action film, you will be tremendously impressed both with the quality of the film, and perhaps with an expanded vision of the world without God and the need. Don’t watch it with children, the violence is intense at times, and would definitely be too disturbing for even a young teenager. The language is not terrible, several expletives, but not superfluous. In sum, if you’re looking for just a war movie, get something else. If you’re looking for a war movie with some serious thought behind it (ala Black Hawk Down), give Tears a try.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—James Graebner, age 21
Positive—This is a fantastic movie! Though not as great as films like Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down, it gives a somber lesson on the horrors of war and how people should respond. Yes, the film is graphic and brutal, and it should be. Improperly billed as an action film, it actually is more of a war drama, and it has something important to say.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—D.J. Williams, age 20
Movie Critics
Negative—“…resorting to gruesome depictions of death and mutilation …even without the special effects, this wouldn’t have been a film for families. The subject matter is far too intense and could be damaging to children. Those adults who decide to face the onslaught of violence and vulgar language shouldn’t be going to enjoy another war movie. And when they exit the theater, they should be heartbroken, mourning the loss of millions upon millions of innocents around the world.
—Steven Isaac, Focus on the Family
Positive—“…Bravo! …shows the courageous human spirit in its best form—a hero going beyond what’s required of him and risking his life so that others may live. …I appreciated the line, “God will never forget you.”
—Holly McClure, Crosswalk