Tears of the Sun: Wikis


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Tears of the Sun

Film poster
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Produced by Ian Bryce
Mike Lobell
Arnold Rifkin
Written by Alex Lasker
Patrick Cirillo
Starring Bruce Willis
Monica Bellucci
Cole Hauser
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography Mauro Fiore
Editing by Conrad Buff
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) March 3, 2003
Running time 121 min. (theatrical cut)
142 min. (director's cut)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $70,000,000[1]
Gross revenue $85,632,458[2]

Tears of the Sun is a 2003 American war film, depicting a U.S. Navy SEALs rescue mission amidst a civil war in the West African country of Nigeria. Lt. A.K. Waters (Bruce Willis) commands the team sent to rescue U.S. citizen Dr. Lena Fiore Kendricks (Monica Bellucci) from the civil war en route to her jungle hospital. The film was directed by Antoine Fuqua.

Willis produced Tears of the Sun through Cheyenne Enterprises, his production company, and took the title from an early sub–title for Live Free or Die Hard, the fourth film in the Die Hard series; he filmed the sequel on condition he could use its sub-title for his SEALs war film.[citation needed]



A coup d'état occurs in Nigeria, violently overthrowing the Presidential family, and establishing the dictatorship of rebel general Mustafa Yakubu. The Fulani rebels then execute a violent ethnic cleansing, done by the tribe from the northern side of the country, against the Ibo (ee•bow) tribes in the southern region.

Lieutenant A.K. Waters (Bruce Willis) and his SEAL team are sent by Captain Bill Rhodes (Tom Skerritt) to Nigeria to extract a "critical personality". They are to be inserted into the Nigerian jungle outside a small Catholic Mission Hospital and extract Dr. Lena Fiore Kendricks (Monica Bellucci), a U.S. citizen by marriage. The secondary mission is to extract the Mission Priest and two Nuns.

The mission begins as planned. Lt. Waters tells Dr. Kendricks of the company of rebel soldiers closing on her hospital and the mission, and that the team’s orders are to extract U.S. personnel; however, Kendricks refuses to leave without the patients. Waters calls Cpt. Rhodes for options; after their short and ambiguous conversation, he concedes to Dr. Kendricks that they will take those refugees able to walk. She begins assembling the able-bodied for the twelve-kilometre hike; the priest and the nuns stay behind to take care of the injured. Irritated and behind schedule, the team and the refugees leave the hospital mission after daybreak.

At nightfall they take a short break. Guerrilla rebels rapidly approach their position, and Waters stealthily kills a straggling rebel. Dr. Kendricks worries to Lt. Waters that the rebels are going to the mission, but he is determined to carry out his orders, and they continue to the extraction point. When they arrive, Waters’ initial plan becomes clear: the SEALs suddenly turn away the refugees from the awaiting helicopter. Lt. Waters forces Dr. Kendricks into the helicopter, leaving the refugees stranded in the jungle, unprotected against the rebels. En route to the aircraft carrier, they fly over the mission, seeing it destroyed and all its occupants murdered, as Dr. Kendricks predicted. Remorseful, Lt. Waters orders the pilot to return to the refugees.

During the hike to the border, using satellite scans, they discover the rebels are somehow tracking them. As they escape and evade the rebels, the team enter a village whose inhaibtants are massacred by rebel soldiers. Aware of having the opportunity to stop it, Waters orders the team to take down the rebels. The team is emotionally affected by what they see the rebels have done to the villagers.

Again en route, Slo (Nick Chinlund) determines that a refugee is transmitting a signal allowing the rebels to locate them. The search for the transmitter reveals the presence of Arthur Azuka (Sammi Rotibi), surviving son of deposed President Samuel Azuka, which they realize is the reason the rebels are hunting them. A newer refugee picked up during the trek is discovered with the transmitter on his person. He attempts to run but is shot. Waters is angry at Dr. Kendricks, because she always knew about Arthur, yet never informed him.

The team decides to continue escorting the refugees to Cameroon, regardless of the cost. A fire fight explodes between the SEALs and rebels hidden in the trees. Zee (Eamonn Walker) calls the Harry S. Truman for air support; two F-18's take off and head for the fire fight. The rebels kill Slo, Flea, Lake, and Silk. Waters, Red, and Zee are wounded, but direct the fighter pilots on where to attack. Arthur and Dr. Kendricks are scrambling to the Cameroon border gate when they hear the fighters’ approach.

Waters, Zee, Doc (Paul Francis), and Red (Cole Hauser) rise from the grass as Navy helicopters land in Cameroon, opposite the Nigerian border fence gate. Cpt. Rhodes arrives and orders the gate open, letting in the SEALs and the refugees. A detail of Marines then escort the SEALs to some helicopters. Dr. Kendricks says farewell to friends and flies away in the same helicopter with Lt. Waters.

The finale shows the refugees recognizing Arthur Azuka as tribal chief and bearer of his father's democratic dreams for Nigeria. He raises his arm exclaiming "Freedom!" as everyone celebrates around him. The Edmund Burke epilogue of Tears of the Sun is "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing".


The cast of Tears of the Sun features refugees portrayed by true African refugees living in the U.S.

  • Bruce Willis as Lieutenant A.K. Waters. Rifleman
  • Monica Bellucci as Dr. Lena Kendricks
  • Cole Hauser as James "Red" Atkins. M-60 Machine Gunner
  • Eamonn Walker as Ellis "Zee" Pettigrew. Radioman. Rifleman
  • Johnny Messner as Kelly Lake. Mohawk, Lead Scout & Rifleman
  • Nick Chinlund as Michael "Slo" Slowenski. SAW Machine Gunner
  • Charles Ingram as Demetrius "Silk" Owens. Sniper
  • Paul Francis as Danny "Doc" Kelley. Medic. Rifleman
  • Chad Smith as Jason "Flea" Mabry. Sniper
  • Tom Skerritt as Captain Bill Rhodes
  • Malick Bowens as Colonel Idris Sadick


The actors who portrayed SEALs underwent a two-week boot camp; during principal photography, they had to address and refer to each other by character name — even off camera, to improve interaction. Tears of the Sun is the first film photographed on the Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman. The SH-60B Seahawk helicopters in the film are from the HSL-37 "Easy Riders" stationed at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Oahu, Hawaii. The F/A-18A Hornet jet fighter aeroplanes are from the VFA-204, the "River Rattlers". The VFA-204 is a Navy Reserve strike fighter squadron at Naval Air Station New Orleans.

The shooting was touched by misfortune when actor Kevin Tod Smith, cast as one of the SEAL men, died accidentally, while visiting a film set in China. On February 6, 2002, while waiting for a ride back to his hotel, after completing work on Warriors of Virtue 2, Smith decided to walk about the Central China Television film studio grounds, and climbed a prop tower in a set of another film, lost his footing and fell approximately three stories, severely injuring his head. He was taken to hospital, then transferred to Beijing. He lapsed into coma and was on life support for ten days, until it was discontinued. He died on February 15, 2002, without regaining consciousness.


Tears of the Sun received mixed reviews; the movie review aggregation websites Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic record average favourable review ratings of 38% and 45% respectively.[3][4] Time Out London was scathing, lambasting the focus on a fictional atrocity in a real country, when there was ample opportunity to explore similar, but historically accurate atrocities. In the audio commentary however, Antoine Fuqua defends his choice of Nigeria based upon the fact that many experts were predicting it as the next country to experience civil war. He considered it a cop-out to use a make-believe country to describe such realistic events. Roger Ebert, however, gave the film three stars out of four and said "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." [5]


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