[tears of the sun]r

TEARS OF THE SUN

What particularly idiotic movie shall we look at tonight?

How about Tears of the Sun, a chick-flick with machineguns, starring Bruce Willis as in incompetent SEAL and Monica Bellucci as a large-breasted doctor?

We start off with apparent news footage of brutal war in Nigeria. From there we go to an aircraft carrier, where we learn that, oh no! the President of Nigeria and his entire family have been assassinated (I would have said 'executed,' but never mind). From there we meet LT A.K. Waters, ol' Bruce himself in his shaven-headed glory, as a Navy SEAL, who's being handed an assignment — go rescue a naturalized-American doctor (she's a naturalized American to explain her funky Italian accent), and if you can get around to it, a priest and two nuns, from deep inside Darkest Nigeria.

Okay, so far, so good. Our hero and his poorly-defined squad (I think it was really a half-squad. I think there were seven men. I'm not entirely sure — the characters weren't well enough characterized to differentiate them) go parachute in, walk into the jungle clinic of our heroine doctor, and tell her to pack her stuff; they're getting out of there. The Wicked Islamic Rebels will be there, looting, raping, and killing, within a day.

Dr. Kendricks, however, says she won't go, not without her patients. A problem! There are about 70 of 'em.

So... our guy calls up his boss, Captain Rhodes (as in Rhodesia, I suppose), aboard that aircraft carrier. CAPT Rhodes likes to stand on the flight deck with planes taking off and landing behind him, without wearing ear protection. Maybe he can't hear what Waters is saying. That's about the only explanation that makes sense for the silly stuff that goes on from this point in.

Waters explains the situation. The only reasonable thing for Rhodes to say would be "You're the one on the ground; what do you need?" and the only sensible thing for Waters to reply is "I need three CH-46s at the LZ," to which Rhodes would reply, "Roger that," and it would be a very short movie.

But no, they have this movie budget to burn up so a fifteen minute flick isn't in the cards.

Well, our guys head out on foot. It's about fifteen kilometers to the landing zone, and they've got a bunch of civilians because the doctor wouldn't leave without 'em. The priest and nuns stay behind because they won't leave those too sick to walk, we really need an atrocity or two (or three) to liven up the screenplay and show how Really Bad those bad guys are, and besides, there's no possibility of a romantic subplot between any of them and the lieutenant, is there?

We walk through the jungle. For some reason the SEALs, though they were all cammied out at the beginning, lose their facepaint and never regain it. To make up for this, the perky doctor has lots of raspberry lip gloss with her, and never loses it. I did kinda wonder where she packed the blow dryer and how long the extension cord was. I suppose there weren't a lot of mosquitoes in that jungle either. She doesn't bother to button the top button on her blouse at any time.

Well, we walk. We hunker down to give a baby a shot. The baby cries. Rebels walk up the trail. Will they hear the crying baby? Nope, they don't. Good job, guys.

Back at the clinic, the Evil Islamic Rebels (did I mention that they're Evil?) kill the priest and nuns. (Evilly.)

Our guys get to the landing zone, pop smokes, and two helicopters show up, one of them a gunship that can't carry passengers, the other an SH-60. Why exactly they're using an anti-submarine bird for this I don't know. Well, anyway, our guys pack the doctor on board, leaving the civilians behind. She screams, she cries, she slaps the LT.

Off they go. They fly way, way, too low, and they fly over the clinic compound, apparently secure in the knowledge that the bad guys don't have any anti-air ordnance. Waters looks down and sees all kinds of dead bodies on the ground. Oh no, he never suspected killing, I guess. He looks up, straight into the doctor's cleavage (remember that top button?) and orders the helicopters to turn around. Me, I was looking down and seeing all kinds of clear space. Why didn't they just bring the helicopters in there the day before, and save everyone about 24 hours and a nasty hike?

Because that would make for a fifteen minute movie, is why.

Okay, we go back to the other landing zone, land, load up the very young and very old into the helicopter to fly 'em to Cameroon, while Waters and everyone else walks there. Good enough. CAPT Rhodes can't send more helicopters — apparently it's too dangerous. Captain Rhodes doesn't seem to notice, or care much, that Lieutenant Waters has kinda ignored his orders, blown his mission, and failed to achieve his objective.

Okay, off we all go, tramping through the jungle heading for Cameroon.

But wait, what's this? The wicked Nigerian Islamic Rebels have reached the landing zone! They've found one of the smoke grenades. The head honcho sniffs it. "Americans," he says. (Just to let everyone know how sadistic he is, he's named Colonel Sadick. (I'm not making this up.)) The Evil Islamic Rebels follow the trail up into the jungle.

Meanwhile, in that same jungle (which looked a lot more like the Hawaiian jungle than Nigerian jungle, as reading the closing credits confirmed), one of the SEALs has a Combat Laptop Computer. This is one heck of a laptop. On it he can call up a picture showing our guys Where They Are, and Where The Bad Guys Who Are Following Them are. In fact, it tells our guys that there are 300 enemy troopers on their tail, and that they're about three hours behind. That super-padoopie Combat Laptop shows individual points of light for each enemy trooper on their trail.

At least in the jungles I hung out in, you couldn't see the bad guys, you couldn't see the good guys, you couldn't see anything. No telling where anyone or anything was. It was pretty lonely. Not knowing where anyone was, or even where you were, could get tense. No problem for our heroes, though.

Meanwhile, back at the movie....

"We must let the people rest!" says charmingly unbuttoned and nicely lip-glossed and blow-dried Dr. Kendricks.

"Okay," says LT Waters.

"March or die," I mutter, watching this bomb.

It wasn't just me thought that the action didn't make a lot of sense. "LT, what are we doing here?" one of the troopers asks LT Waters. "Some of the boys are confused."

"When I figure it out myself, I'll tell you," Waters replies, in an answer that's sure to boost morale.

It rains in the jungle. It seems that the SEALs forgot to bring their bush hats and ponchos, as well as forgetting to pack more facepaint. They get dripped on. Dr. Kendricks, she of the full-pouty lips and bouncy breasts, continues to look fantastic.

We come up to a village. It seems that a different group of Evil Guerillas (did I mention that they're Evil?) are there, and they're performing all kinds of atrocities on the civilians, and they're taking their time about it, too.

What to do, what to do? Recall that our guys are in an escape and evasion situation, they're being trailed by a force that outnumbers them sixty-to-one, they're bogged down by a bunch of [put very bad word here]ing civilians, and their rules of engagement are to only fire if fired upon.

Naturally, they attack the village themselves, and kill all the Evil (these guys are really evil) Islamic rebels. As far as escaping and evading, they might as well have sent up flares telling the bad guys "Here we are!"

Remember when Waters says that if he figures out what he's doing that he'll tell the guys? Well, he's figured it out. He's doing this to make up for what white America did to black Africa. Weirdly enough he's making up for what white America did to black Africa by taking a bunch of white Americans to black Africa and shooting a bunch of black Africans in the head. Go figure.

Onward. After wasting entirely too much time in the village (have they forgotten that they're being followed?) they fail to grab the trucks in town and just drive to the border. No, they go back out into the jungle, and, since the fact that they're being tracked and they've just motivated the bad guys to be really pissed with them (rather than perhaps following along out of idle curiosity) doesn't concern them much, bed down for the night.

The next morning — it's entirely too light when one of the troopers wakes the LT. I guess they decided to sleep in that day. But there's trouble! Remember that Combat Laptop? The little points of light are now Lots Closer! Just an hour behind them! The bad guys moved in the dark!

Oh, no! What can this mean? The lieutenant figures it right out. One of the refugees must be carrying a tracking device. (He never wonders if the bad guys might not have their own Super-padoopie Combat Laptop. He never appears to consider that the bad guys might have dogs, or that the gaggle of civilians he's herding are leaving a trail about ten yards wide that wouldn't be too much of a challenge to follow with a flashlight, or that the baddies had just drawn a line from the LZ to the closest Cameroon border crossing and were following their compasses the same way he is. This is Silly.)

So, in a tense scene during which we shoot one of the refugees who appears to be carrying a Motorola cell phone which is really a tracking device, we learn that a couple of the other refugees are really a guy named Arthur Azuka, and his faithful sidekick Colonel Emanuel Okeze. The death of the one guy and the revelation about the other two would have been a whole lot more effective and touching if we'd gotten to know any of the refugees so that we cared one way or another about them. We wouldn't even care now, except that we learn that Arthur there is the Sole Surviving Son of the Late President of Nigeria! That's why the Evil (really evil) rebels are after this group! And the busty doctor knew it all along, but didn't tell the lieutenant because "I didn't trust you."

Rather than slapping the LT back at the LZ, if the doctor were smart she would have pointed at those two and said, "He comes, and he comes."

"Why?"

"Because they're the True King and his Trusty Companion, numbnuts."

"Okay, gotcha."

They even had room for 'em because the priest and the nuns weren't coming. Twenty minute movie. Right, that's why she didn't.

Meanwhile I'm saying to myself, "Sole surviving son of the ex-president of Nigeria? That's the son-of-a-bitch who has forty-seven million United States Dollars squirreled away somewhere, and all he needs is my bank account number to get it out of the country. He e-mails me twice a day, at least. I bet he's been using that Super-padoopie Combat Laptop the whole time to send spam. Hey, Lieutenant! Lend me your pistol. I can make everyone's life a lot easier."

The LT doesn't do anything creative with that homing device, like tossing it to a passing baboon, or putting it on a piece of wood and floating it down a river, or tying it to a warthog, or breaking it. Nor does he do anything smart like turning to the group of refugees, dividing them into groups of two or three, saying "Okay, you go that way, and you go that way...." all around the compass, while he and his troopers take the doctor, her lip gloss, her push-up bra, and the Rightful King of the Ibo off to the Cameroon border at a fast trot.

Do you want to know what intensely stupid thing he does?

Okay, here it comes.

He puts the homing device with the dead guy, wires up some explosives, then hangs around with a command detonator until the bad guys (three hundred strong, heavily armed, low on sleep and coffee, and ugly, too — not to mention Evil) arrive, so he can blow up some of them. The bad guys were formerly an hour behind him. Now they're about twenty feet behind him, and if they weren't pissed off before they are now. Smooth move, Lieutenant. Remind me not to put you in charge of any more missions.

Okay, somehow our guys get away despite all this. (I can't figure out how they got away. Neither could the writers or the director: quick cut, and our guys are somewhere else with no bad guys in sight.)

There we are by a river, and our guys have a conflab. They all vote to continue, and take the civilians with them. Vote? Say what? Then one of the troopers turns to one of the civilians and says, "We'll get you to safety or die trying," and my fifteen-year-old son who's watching this with me turns to me and whispers, "He doesn't get to see the final credits, does he?" Nope, he doesn't. Important safety tip: If you suspect you're in a Hollywood war movie, never, under any circumstances, allow the words "...or die trying" to escape your lips.

Yet more buffoonery. Waters chats with Rhodes again, and is denied air support ("It's too hot.") (What? I haven't seen any anti-air orndnance at all.)

Our guys wander around some more, and run into an ambush by the Evil bad guys, who have figured out that they're heading for the Cameroon border, and gotten ahead of them.

While the Super-padoopie Combat Laptop was able to show each individual soldier who was following our guys at the beginning, at the end when the bad guys ambush the good guys, no one thinks to check the Super-padoopie Combat Laptop to see where the bad guys might be. Maybe the batteries ran out while maintaining the internet connection while Son-Of-The-President-Guy was sending URGENT AND CONFIDENTIAL emails.

The bad guys have RPGs, machineguns, and mortars. In addition to having a sixty-to-one numerical advantage. What do our guys do? They stand up and advance toward the bad guys, shoulder to shoulder, firing their weapons from the hip! This didn't work too well in WWI. It didn't work too well at Gettysburg. I'm not certain it worked all that well at Bunker Hill. But for sure it doesn't work too well here. Waters, long since run out of "mission," hasn't figured out that skonkering off with the civilians, including the mammiferous doctor and the Rightful King, would be the clever thing to do. Our guys are getting shot to pieces.

Okay, though, we're right close to the Cameroon border now. So finally Waters decides to do a fighting retreat, with the doctor (now charmingly wounded in the leg) slung across his shoulder. Remember the request for air support? For reasons that are never explained, now we get a couple of jets launched. They're unarmed when they take off from the flight deck, and they fly entirely too low, but by the time they get to Our Guys' location, they're carrying missiles. With which they blast the Bad Guys, killing them all, hooray for our side! This filled me with wonder, since the missiles they were firing were a mixed bag of anti-radiation missiles and medium range air-to-air missiles. In other words, if the bad guys weren't using radar or flying in fighter jets, the missiles wouldn't hit 'em at all. If you held a contest for "most useless weapons mix against troops on the ground in a jungle," that combo would probably be declared the winner by acclamation.

Okay, we're at Cameroon. For reasons that escape me, the Cameroonian border guards let 'em through. And here come the nice shiny helicopters to fly the white saviors off into the sky, while the grateful natives dance below, shouting "We love you," and "We will never forget you."

Then we get a quote from Edmund Burke — the one about good men doing nothing. The end.

Two breasts (native tit — the doctor keeps her shirt charmingly unbuttoned but otherwise firmly in place), twenty-seven gallons of blood, several explosions, lots of machineguns. No car chases.

To clear my palate I watched A Man Apart, an incoherent Vin Diesel actioner, featuring machineguns, exploding cars, a visit to a strip club, and the chief taking away his star detective's badge. A much better flick.


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