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Tears of the Sun (2003)

R  |   |  Action, Drama, Thriller  |  7 March 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 88,072 users   Metascore: 48/100
Reviews: 391 user | 87 critic | 36 from Metacritic.com

A Special-Ops commander leads his team into the Nigerian jungle in order to rescue a doctor who will only join them if they agree to save 70 refugees too.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ellis 'Zee' Pettigrew
Demetrius 'Silk' Owens
Colonel Idris Sadick
Awaovieyi Agie ...
Hadar Busia-Singleton ...
Ida Onyango ...


Navy SEAL Lieutenant A.K. Waters and his elite squadron of tactical specialists are forced to choose between their duty and their humanity, between following orders by ignoring the conflict that surrounds them, or finding the courage to follow their conscience and protect a group of innocent refugees. When the democratic government of Nigeria collapses and the country is taken over by a ruthless military dictator, Waters, a fiercely loyal and hardened veteran is dispatched on a routine mission to retrieve a Doctors Without Borders physician, Dr. Lena Kendricks. Dr. Kendricks, an American citizen by marriage, is tending to the victims of the ongoing civil war at a Catholic mission in a remote village. When Waters arrives, however, Dr. Kendricks refuses to leave unless he promises to help deliver the villagers to political asylum at the nearby border. If they are left behind, they will be at the mercy of the enormous rebel army. Waters is under strict orders from his commanding officer ... Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The lives of many rest in the courage of a few. See more »


Action | Drama | Thriller | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong war violence, some brutality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 March 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hostile Act  »

Box Office


$70,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$17,057,213 (USA) (7 March 2003)


$1,825,961 (Spain) (5 December 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


A scene where Bruce Willis kissed Monica Belluci was shot, but deleted after a test screening. See more »


During the scene where Dr Kendricks was talking over the CB radio with a US embassy personnel for help, right after her first sentence, we hear the man on the other end reply. Yet, she never appeared to release the "talk" button, meaning she is still in "transmit" mode and won't be able to "receive" incoming broadcasts unless she releases the "talk" button first. See more »


[first lines]
Female news reader: [voiceover] The tension that had been brewing for months in Nigeria exploded yesterday as exiled General Mustafa Yakubu orchestrated a swift and violent coup against the democratically elected government of President Samuel Azuka. In a land with 120 million people and over 250 ethnic groups, there'd been a long-standing history of ethnic enmity, particularly between the Fulani Moslems in the north and Christian Ibo in the south. The victorious Fulani rebels have taken to the streets...
See more »

Crazy Credits

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." -Edmund Burke See more »


Referenced in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Outstanding middle part surrounded by Hollywood clichés
21 May 2006 | by (The Hague, Netherlands) – See all my reviews

'Tears of the Sun' is a movie with a message and an interesting first hour, but contains too many Hollywood clichés to really be something. We start with Lieutenant Waters (Bruce Willis) and his team of SEALS who have to rescue Dr. Lena Kendricks (Monica Bellucci), a priest and two nuns from a missionary post in Nigeria where murdering rebels are about to arrive. The priest and the nuns want to stay, Kendricks only wants to come if the Nigerian refugees can come too. Waters agrees only to leave them behind as soon as Kendricks is on the helicopter. Then, from the helicopter, he witnesses the result of rebels passing by and in an instant he disobeys his orders and turns the helicopter around.

This is the point where the best part of the movie begins. Waters and his team are on their own now, leading the refugees to the border of Cameroon. The way his team not always agrees with his decisions but how they are loyal anyway is one of the interesting things here. Another is the way the movie dares to show the rebels and their actions, things we see parts of on the news in places like Liberia and Sudan. It gives us an impression how hopeless the situation is in some parts of Africa. The distraction here comes from Kendricks who is an obvious Hollywood plot device. She is the possible love interest, or at least the needed female character, and she must annoy Waters by constantly suggesting things that even to her must sound stupid when followed by a lot of rebels. Never mind.

Then the third act starts and the movie fails to deliver what it kind of promised before. Instead of following the dramatic path it changes into the kind of action film Hollywood likes to produce. A lot of gunfire, explosions and bodies flying through the air. That's too bad since an earlier action sequence was able to show both the horrific actions of the rebels and the trained and nuanced way of SEALS dealing with a situation. During that sequence I felt a director (Antoine Fuqua) doing his job the right way, making the movie very intense. He did the same thing for the excellent 'Training Day' from the year before. His third act of 'Tears of the Sun' was sort of like an introduction to his real Hollywood adventure, 'King Arthur'.

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