Tears Of The Sun (Blu-ray/Theatrical Cut)
Picture: B Sound: B Extras: C Film: C
and Action genre have had a nice picnic of a ride with each other since the
1980s, but the reality of 9/11 has put new demands on that combination that has
aged many of those hybrids. Antoine
Fuqua’s Tears Of The Sun (2003) went
through without acknowledging those changes much, though the story about
American soldiers having to choice as to save or not save displaced refugees is
an odd one as far as timing is concerned.
Willis is the head of a group of Navy S.E.A.L.s who happen to be in the worst
place at the worst time, involving the deadly combination of Civil War and
genocide. He has a solid team and when
halfway through the film are immersed in the thick of things, decide to fight
and protect the innocent. Why this is
not obvious earlier makes no sense. Of
course, of they did not do so at that point, there would be no film. The moment they decide is even awkward, but
it is as if the Alex Lasker/Patrick Cirillo screenplay has to “show” us what a
“bunch of great guys” they are. The
problem with that is its insidiousness, as it implies some people are better
than others and worse, that others are disposable because they did not meet
some shallow standard of “nice” and their deaths do not matter.
this is through words and not just actions, so has cinema come down to
spoon-feeding its audience like they were idiotic. Their may be a propagandic side to that as
well, though Fuqua’s more impressive work in Training Day (reviewed elsewhere on this site) never allows itself
to be in such a clichéd corner. Despite
a good cast that includes Tom Skerritt, Bruce Greenwood and Monica Bellucci,
along with talented filmmakers in a big production, the film never gels and
trips over a contradictory combination of addressing ideology, skipping over it
and inoculating anything that might seem “subversive” or too far left.
ultimate problem is that Fuqua is too good for the basic material and in this shorter
theatrical cut, can only deliver an action film at best that is simply too
damaged on the level of realism to ever truly work. This is not one of Willis’ sleepwalking
performances either, but he has done better.
The other problem with the weakness of the story and motivations is
ultimately, is Willis’ character doing this for justice or because he has the
hots for Bellucci’s character? That is
how weak the backstory is, leaving the action as action for action’s sake. Wonder if the longer cut of the film resolves
any of this?
2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image was shot in real anamorphic Panavision
by Mario Fiore, in what was a tough shoot literally in the jungle. However, some of the colors of those scenes
have been stylized in a way that it does not always look real or natural,
giving us a surrealism that sometimes works for the film, but other times
against it. At its best, this looks far
better than most of the Super 35mm productions that use less of the area of
each film frame and has some demo-quality scenes for this format. The Fuqua/Fiore team tends to come up with
more interesting visuals than most director/cinematographer combos, which is
why Training Day has been an early
hot HD title in both formats.
5.1 16bit/48kHz sound mix is pretty good & the best mix on the disc, though
in the best scenes, it seems the sound is hitting the ceiling of the
16bits. Fuqua has a knack for having
interesting sound mixes on his films as Training
Day, The Replacement Killers and
his original R-Rated cut of King Arthur
(also on this site) have proven. Since
this is a 25GB Blu-ray, there was only room for so many options. A 50GB of the longer cut down the line will
hopefully offer Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD.
are more than usual and hopefully did not affect the picture too much. They include a factoid track, deleted scenes,
writer’s observations and another smart, articulate audio commentary by Fuqua
that are among the best any director is offering today. If you have not seen the film, this is now
the best version out there and is worth a look for your consideration.
- Nicholas Sheffo