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Tears of the Sun is a 2003 American action war drama film depicting a U.S. Navy SEAL team rescue mission amidst the civil war in Nigeria. Lt. A.K. Waters (Bruce Willis) commands the team sent to rescue U.S. citizen Dr. Lena Fiore Kendricks (Monica Bellucci) before the approaching rebels reach her jungle hospital. The film was directed by Antoine Fuqua.

Tears of the Sun
Tears of the Sun movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAntoine Fuqua
Produced byIan Bryce
Mike Lobell
Arnold Rifkin
Written byAlex Lasker
Patrick Cirillo
StarringBruce Willis
Monica Bellucci
Cole Hauser
Tom Skerritt
Music byHans Zimmer
CinematographyMauro Fiore
Edited byConrad Buff
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
March 7, 2003
Running time
121 minutes
142 minutes (Director's cut)
CountryUnited States
Budget$100.5 million[1]
Box office$86.5 million[2][3]

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 the condition that he could use its sub-title for his SEALs war film.[citation needed] The cast of Tears of the Sun includes actual African refugees living in the United States.



Turmoil erupts in Nigeria following a military coup d'etat, which involves the brutal murders of the president and his family. As foreign nationals are evacuated from the country, Lieutenant A.K. Waters (Bruce Willis) and his U.S. Navy SEAL detachment comprising Zee (Eamonn Walker), Slo (Nick Chinlund), Red (Cole Hauser), Lake (Johnny Messner), Silk (Charles Ingram), Doc (Paul Francis), and Flea (Chad Smith), aboard the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman, are dispatched by Captain Bill Rhodes (Tom Skerritt) to extract a "critical persona", one Dr. Lena Fiore Kendricks (Monica Bellucci), a U.S. citizen by marriage and the widowed daughter-in-law of a U.S. Senator. Their secondary mission is to extract the mission priest (Pierrino Mascarino) and two nuns (Fionnula Flanagan and Cornelia Hayes O'Herlihy), should they choose to come.

The mission begins as planned. Waters tells Dr. Kendricks of the company of rebel soldiers closing in 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 Captain Rhodes for options; after their short and ambiguous conversation, he concedes to Dr. Kendricks' wishes and agrees to take those refugees able to walk. Kendricks begins assembling the able-bodied for the 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) hike; the priest and the nuns stay behind to take care of the injured.

Irritated and behind the 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 warns 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.

Back at the mission, the staff and refugees are confronted by rebel forces. Despite the priest's pleas for mercy, the rebel forces execute him and the remaining occupants.

When the team arrives at the extraction point, Waters' initial plan becomes clear: the SEALs suddenly turn away the refugees from the waiting helicopter. 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 original mission compound, seeing it destroyed and all its occupants murdered, as Dr. Kendricks had feared.

Remorseful, Waters orders the pilot to return to the refugees. He then loads as many refugees as he can into the helicopter and decides to escort the remaining refugees to the Cameroon border.

During the hike to the border, using satellite scans, the SEALs discover the rebels are somehow tracking them. As they escape and evade the rebels, the team enters a village whose inhabitants are being raped, tortured, and massacred by rebel soldiers. Aware of having the opportunity to stop it, Waters orders the team to take down the rebels. The team is visibly shaken by the atrocities they see the rebels have committed against the villagers.

Again en route, Slo 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), the surviving son of late President Samuel Azuka, which they realize is the reason the rebels are hunting them: Samuel Azuka was not only the president of the country, but also the tribal king of the Igbo. As the only surviving member of this royal bloodline, Arthur is the only person left with a legitimate claim to the leadership of Nigeria. Waters is angry at Dr. Kendricks, who knew of Arthur's identity, yet never informed the SEAL team.

A newer refugee (Jimmy Jean-Louis) picked up during the trek is discovered with the transmitter on his person. He attempts to run but is shot.

The team decides to continue escorting the refugees to Cameroon, regardless of the cost. A firefight ensues when the rebels finally catch up with the SEALs, who decide to stay behind as rearguard to buy the refugees enough time to reach the border safely.

Zee radios the Truman for air support; two F/A-18A Hornets take off and head for the firefight. The rebels kill Slo, Lake, Flea, and Silk. Waters, Red, Doc, 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 fighter jets approach and bomb the entire rebel force.

Waters, Zee, Doc, and Red rise from the grass as U.S. Navy helicopters land in Cameroon, opposite the Nigerian border fence gate. Captain Rhodes arrives and orders the gate open, letting in the SEALs and the refugees. A detail of U.S. Marines then escorts the SEALs to the helicopters.

Captain Rhodes promises Waters that he will recover the bodies of Waters' men. Dr. Kendricks bids tearful farewells to her Nigerian friends and flies away in a helicopter while romantically embracing Waters, watching as Arthur is surrounded by his people proclaiming their freedom.



Tears of the Sun received mixed to negative reviews. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 33% based on 154 reviews, and an average rating of 5/10. The website's critical consensus states that the film "tries to be high-minded, but in the end, it's just a stylish action movie."[4] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 48 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[5]

Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[6]

Roger Ebert 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."[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Lang, Brent (September 2, 2011). "'Gigli's' Real Price Tag — Or, How Studios Lie About Budgets". Retrieved June 28, 2017.
  2. ^ Tears of the Sun at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "Tears of the Sun". Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  4. ^ "Tears of the Sun (2003)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  5. ^ "Tears of the Sun Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  6. ^ Tears of the Sun. CinemaScore Reviews.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Tears of the Sun". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-06-18.

External linksEdit