A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"Tears of the Sun" is a film constructed out of rain, cinematography and the face of Bruce Willis. These materials are sufficient to build a film almost as good as if there had been a better screenplay. In a case like this, the editor often deserves the credit, for concealing what is not there with the power of what remains.
The movie tells the story of a Navy Seals unit that is dropped into a Nigerian civil war zone to airlift four U.S. nationals to safety. They all work at the same mission hospital. The priest and two nuns refuse to leave. The doctor, widow of an American, is also hostile at first ("Get those guns out of my operating room!"), but then she agrees to be saved if she can also bring her patients. She cannot. There is no room on the helicopters for them and finally Lieut. Waters (Bruce Willis) wrestles her aboard.
But then he surprises himself. As the chopper circles back over the scene, they see areas already set afire by arriving rebel troops. He cannot quite meet the eyes of the woman, Dr. Lena Hendricks (Monica Bellucci). "Let's turn it around," Willis says. They land, gather about 20 patients who are well enough to walk, and call for the helicopters to return.
But he has disobeyed direct orders, his superior will not risk the choppers, and they will all have to walk through the jungle to Cameroon to be rescued. Later, when it is clear Willis' decision has placed his men and mission in jeopardy, one of his men asks, "Why'd you turn it around?" He replies: "When I figure that out, I'll let you know." And later: "It's been so long since I've done a good thing--the right thing." There are some actors who couldn't say that dialogue without risking laughter from the audience. Willis is not one of them. His face smeared with camouflage and glistening with rain, his features as shadowed as Marlon Brando's in "Apocalypse Now," he seems like a dark violent spirit sent to rescue them from one hell, only to lead them into another. If we could fully understand how he does what he does, we would know a great deal about why some actors can carry a role that would destroy others. Casting directors must spend a lot of time thinking about this.