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Tears of the Sun (2003)



Average Rating: 4.9/10
Reviews Counted: 150
Fresh: 50 | Rotten: 100

Tries to be high-minded, but in the end, it's just a stylish action movie.


Average Rating: 4.5/10
Critic Reviews: 38
Fresh: 12 | Rotten: 26

Tries to be high-minded, but in the end, it's just a stylish action movie.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 118,876

My Rating

Movie Info

A career soldier is forced to choose between following orders and saving lives in this action thriller. Lt. A.K. Waters (Bruce Willis) is a veteran Navy SEAL whose commander (Tom Skerritt) has given his team a special assignment. A Central African nation is expected to explode into war at any moment, and Waters and his cohorts are to escort any American citizens in the area to safety, most notably Dr. Lena Kendricks (Monica Bellucci), a doctor from the United States who has set up a clinic in

Jun 10, 2003


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All Critics (169) | Top Critics (42) | Fresh (50) | Rotten (100) | DVD (28)

Will a thinking audience really buy the image of helpless, grateful people bestowing kisses and victory songs upon Willis as the representative of all things American: power, guts, compassion?

April 22, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Daily News | Comment (1)
New York Daily News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Deserves the bad reviews and the lackluster earnings it has accumulated thus far.

April 4, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Raping and pillaging and blowing things up is mainly what this movie is about, although it claims to show how the most robotic, dehumanized soldiers can be transformed by human suffering.

March 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Fuqua ... can stage action, but he can't save a trivializing, reactionary script featuring a Hollywood star (read America) as a global savior.

March 12, 2003
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This Black Hawk Down theft is a trial by cliché.

March 11, 2003 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In a movie with so much graphic suffering by innocent Africans, it's a bit disconcerting that so much loving attention is paid to Bruce Willis's anguished mug.

March 9, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Shamelessly one-sided with cheesy wooden dialogue.

December 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comment (1)
Common Sense Media

The movie regales us with the heroics of a (mostly) white American platoon picking off anonymous black savages.

September 23, 2007 Full Review Source: | Comments (7)

A huge screaming bore of a war flick with a big plate of pretentiousness on the side.

May 28, 2005 Full Review Source: unapologetic paean to the nobility of the American foot solider.

January 29, 2005 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

A tale of courage so facile and off-handedly racist that only Hollywood could have invented it. It confuses slaughter with action, and it's stupid, too.

July 6, 2004 Full Review Source: F5 (Wichita, KS) | Comment (1)
F5 (Wichita, KS)

... Fuqua relies on old-fashioned, gung-ho heroics and the stern face of Bruce Willis to carry the show.

January 6, 2004 Full Review Source: Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)
Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)

Tears of the Sun... [tells us]how the chain of command can be ignored if you 'feel' you have a better idea. Let's hope no one takes this seriously.

January 4, 2004 Full Review | Comments (3)

Ao contrário de insultos como Falcão Negro em Perigo e Fomos Heróis, o protagonista deste filme investe numa causa nobre. E isso faz toda a diferença.

November 28, 2003
Cinema em Cena

Offers a heroism high on condition that you can ditch disbelief ASAP.

September 22, 2003 Full Review Source: RTE Interactive (Dublin, Ireland)

Movies like Tears of the Sun, which are not up to getting immersed in current events, should just stay away from history entirely.

September 14, 2003 Full Review Source: Long Island Press
Long Island Press

Dumbed-down, tree-hugging propaganda trying to masquerade as an action film.

September 9, 2003 Full Review Source: Radio Free Entertainment
Radio Free Entertainment

The issues it raises are both noble, topical and worth exploring, which makes this an interesting, if flawed, military exercise.

August 17, 2003 Full Review Source: Sunday Times (Australia)
Sunday Times (Australia)

Tears waffles so much between three 'war-is' mentalities - hell, redemptive and super-cool for explosions - that it's hard to truly connect.

June 27, 2003 Full Review

More entertaining than the average action flick

June 13, 2003

overwrought, underwritten and with glacial pace that makes for a piquant juxtaposition to its tropical Nigerian location.

April 5, 2003 Full Review Source: Killer Movie Reviews | Comments (2)
Killer Movie Reviews

'Tears of the Sun is great PR for United States foreign policy and its military. Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld could not have crafted a more pro-United States script, nor could they have hoped for a more valorous portrayal of its soldiers.'

March 31, 2003 Full Review
Star Newspapers (Chicago, IL)

It's as if the blueprint for the basic outline never left the development table, resulting in a picture that's painted in wide swaths of soldier-boy posturing and pontificating.

March 26, 2003
Creative Loafing

Unusually thoughtful and involving.

March 25, 2003 Full Review Source: eye WEEKLY

Audience Reviews for Tears of the Sun

"Tears of the Sun is one of those films that left me feeling gutted after seeing it. It's been a while since a film has left me feeling so many emotions. I had a lot of mixed feelings going on throughout this film. Many of them being disgust, anger, saddness, horrified, and lastly proud. I know these characters are fictional, but the events that take place to these unfortunate people is very real. Just knowing that people have lived through these kind of events really is sickening and terrifying. So when you see A.K. (even if he's not real, I'd like to think someone would have done what he did) turn the plane around and take his group of solidiers to a fight that is not theirs just because it might save lives and is not only the right thing to do, but the human thing to do, is greatly satisfying. I was sickened with what these armed guerillas not only did to these poor people, but to these women and children. I was even more horrified by what they did to nursing mother's. It really just broke my heart and made me cry. I can't imagine seeing this in real life let alone living in it. It's truly a film that makes you not only feel grateful for the life you have and the country you live in, but that their are people out there fighting for these countries and sees that it is wrong and want to help prevent these things from happening anymore. We are all human and deserve to be treated as such. It's really scary knowing these things are still happening. See the film. You won't be able to get it out of your head days or weeks after seeing it. I know I won't."
February 2, 2013

Super Reviewer

An American military unit is dispatched to extract a doctor and US national from a civil war torn region of Africa and is pursued relentlessly to the border by rebel forces. It's the turn of Nigeria to get rescued by Team America: World Police as stone faced Bruce Willis and his team of be-haloed tough guys set the world to rights once more, using just truth, justice and the American way. The American way involving grenades, sniper rifles, automatic weapons and air strikes, as usual. As a political drama it is incredibly simplistic and self righteous, all the Africans in the film being either murderous savages or helpless victims and there are plenty of shots of wailing mothers, murdered children and rape victims to help bludgeon the point home. The characters are the usual mix of morally courageous babe (Monica Belucci manages to look even more gorgeous covered with sweat and grime) and noble US grunts bucking orders to do the right thing; in other words, it's a typically weakly plotted and characterised Hollywood thriller and as such is sugared by some very impressive action scenes. The final showdown is extremely well handled by Antoine (Training Day) Fuqua and it's a shame it's kind of ruined by the inevitable parade of teary-eyed brown faces that are overflowing with gratitude for their American saviours at the end. It's just another example of America rewriting history to make themselves the heroes, but it is entertaining enough if you don't think about it too hard. F**k, yeah.
May 8, 2012
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

There's a lot to admire about Antoine Fuqua's Tears of the Sun amidst the "Ra Ra America" sentiment, and the weak storyline about a hard as nails Lieutenant who never disobeys an order until now. I really enjoyed the first hour of this film. Unlike most action war pictures that find a conflict to exploit, Tears of the Sun immerses itself in the horror of the political situation, and the horrific genocide that is currently taking place. Nigerian rebels have successfully overthrown a democratically elected government, and before the entire country descends into complete chaos (which it pretty much already has), the US Navy SEALS have decided to extract all American military and personnel in the area. Bruce Willis plays a commander whose team has been ordered to find and extract an American doctor, played by Monica Bellucci.
Things get complicated when this doctor refuses to leave without many of the nearby Nigerian civilians she's been treating. Against his orders, Willis agrees, and soon after, he and his team become pursued by the Rebels as this doctor seems to be more important to them than anyone could have realized.
Genocide is a horrible thing. Even more horrible is how so much of the world watches in dismay, yet does not lift a finger to help save these people. Wars between African tribes seem to always end in mass genocide, and this script means to put these American soldiers into a situation where they are forced to look face to face at the human cost they will have to bear by leaving the innocent Nigerians to fend for themselves. For the first half of the film, the violence is kept at a minimal, and we get to know all the soldiers in the platoon, as well as many of the innocents that are being led to safety.
Of course, this being a studio film, the second half of the film dissolves into an action packed firefight between the American soldiers and the African Rebels. Fuqua isn't the strongest action director either, and many of these scenes lack real excitement. Amidst these war sequences, the film pauses to focus on how grateful these civilians are that these soldiers are there for them and that God will bless them. There's nothing particularly wrong with including one or even two such scenes, but there are too many to count, and the "Ra Ra" undertones become a little too obvious for my tastes. And because the film starts off as a darker, more intellectual narrative, it's disappointing that the filmmakers opted for a typical action movie showdown as opposed to a proper and much more daring follow through.
January 17, 2012

Super Reviewer

He was trained to follow orders. He became a hero by defying them.

Saw it again after a long time without seeing it, I really didn't remember exactly what was it about but seeing it again was great and it refresh my mind. Truly great performances by Bruce Willis and Monica Bellucci. Fantastic story and truly eye soaring. Recommended to watch by all who like war or battle films.

Navy SEAL Lieutenant A.K. Waters and his elite squadron of tactical specialists are forced to choose between their duty and their humanity, between following orders by ignoring the conflict that surrounds them, or finding the courage to follow their conscience and protect a group of innocent refugees. When the democratic government of Nigeria collapses and the country is taken over by a ruthless military dictator, Waters, a fiercely loyal and hardened veteran is dispatched on a routine mission to retrieve a Doctors Without Borders physician, Dr. Lena Kendricks. Dr. Kendricks, an American citizen by marriage, is tending to the victims of the ongoing civil war at a Catholic mission in a remote village. When Waters arrives, however, Dr. Kendricks refuses to leave unless he promises to help deliver the villagers to political asylum at the nearby border. If they are left behind, they will be at the mercy of the enormous rebel army. Waters is under strict orders from his commanding officer Captain Bill Rhodes to remain disengaged from the conflict. But as he and his men witness the brutality of the rebels first-hand, they are won over to Dr. Kendricks' cause and place their lives at risk by agreeing to escort the villagers on a perilous trek through the dense jungle. As they move through the countryside on foot, Waters' team, experts at evasion and concealment, are inexplicably and ferociously pursued by an army of rebels. They are confounded until they discover that, among the refugees, is the sole survivor of the country's previous ruling family, whom the rebels have been ordered to eliminate at all costs. Waters and his small band of soldiers must weigh the life of one man against their own and the refugees they feel obliged to protect.
December 30, 2011
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

    1. Dr. Lena Kendricks: Open up! I'm American.
    – Submitted by Giovani G (22 months ago)
    1. Lt. A.K. Waters: I need you to Cowboy the fuck up!
    – Submitted by Melissa D (2 years ago)
    1. Lt. A.K. Waters: Now cowboy the f**k up!
    – Submitted by Dje R (2 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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