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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > War > Tears Of The Sun (Blu-ray/Theatrical Cut)

Tears Of The Sun (Blu-ray/Theatrical Cut)


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: C     Film: C



The War 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.


Bruce 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.


Too bad 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.


The 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?


The 1080p 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.


The PCM 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.


Extras 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


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