Bruce Willis brings Clint Eastwood's brand of stoical squinting to a new level in Tears of the Sun, a would-be stylized war film in the mold of Black Hawk Down, but with one-tenth the impact. Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) has gained a reputation for flashy visuals, but the verdant greens of the African forest pop more than anything kinetic he orchestrates here. The film looks pretty good, but without visceral meat to the story, it's all just gloss. Modern military/genocide films based on real incidents (Black Hawk Down, Hotel Rwanda) face enough difficulty finding relevance with fickle American viewers, who tend to ignore all but the most sensational world tragedies. So a fictitious outing like Tears of the Sun has even less claim to our attention, especially as handled by Fuqua and Willis. The script features few deviations from the typical rebel-hero-in-battle scenario: disobey direct orders, convince your men to follow you and risk their lives to save innocent people, and execute the rescue mission with grit and honor, but not without a cost. Willis plays the gruff lieutenant about the way he plays every role in which he's a tough SOB who ultimately does the right thing: no risks, no surprises. Fuqua gets a little more credit for trying to incorporate the kind of cutting-edge camera techniques that made Ridley Scott's contemporary films so vibrant. But the material is too limp to effectively showcase his talents.
by Derek Armstrong review