By: John M Jerva
Welcome to the second installment of the newly created Firepower Fridays where we talk about some of the fiercest and most high-octane shootouts and firefights in action cinema history. In the inaugural edition, I touched base on John Wick and the very first time Keanu Reeves let loose as the iconic assasin. For this week’s entry, i’m switching gears a little and this time we’re going military as I cover the rousing finale from Tears Of The Sun which starred Bruce Willis as the leader of an elite team of Navy SEALS who are given an impossible mission to rescue an American doctor and her collegues when an Nigeria suffers a bloody coup.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of military themed action pics and besides martial arts flicks, it’s probably my second most famous sub-genre. Tears of the Sun was released back in 2003 and it was a time when Bruce Willis was still headling theatrical releases before being subjected to numerous DTV titles. Willis plays it down beat here but he still resembles the Willis of old and this is probably my second favorite film of his and it’s second only to the original Die Hard.
The movie was helmed by Antoine Fuqua who has gone on to direct some pretty noteworthy action hits like Denzel Washington’s Training Day, The Equalizer franchise as well as The Magnificent Seven. With Tears of the Sun, Fuqua gives us a slow burn film where two thirds of it is pretty low key. There isn’t much in the way of action for most of the running time but we do get to know the characters better than usual and we see how Willis’ team of Devgru operators interact with one another. The audience also gets to feel the tension of their mission which takes a drastic turn when the SEALS are faced with a moral dillema of whether or not to rescue the indeginous people at the camp as well. At first, Willis stays on mission but that doesn’t last long and he makes the decision to help all of them. While the decision was the right thing to do, it still opens up a can of worms and plunges the SEALS, the doctor and refugees into the fight of their lives against a merciless enemy who will stop at nothing to kill them all.
Aside from a very dramatic and brutal action sequence in the middle of the film where the SEALS finally get unleashed and quietly take out a ruthless horde of soldiers who are preying on innocents, the ending is the real showstopper and the one that gives the film its stripes. Faced with suicidal odds, the seven SEALS take on an army as they try to make their way to safety and the border. This scene is a true and classic example of how these men operate in real life because to a SEAL, there is now quit. They know they are up against it but they hunker down and give the enemy their all in a six minute plus sustained battle sequence where many of the team members fall.
The scene also shows how the SEALS operate in a firefight as they basically act like one person and hold the line so the innocents can make it to the border. It’s a very fierce and dramatic action set piece and as the casualties mount and you have to wonder if anyone will survive. Now I’m sure the tactics are not 100% accurate as they wouldn’t show everything they do but Willis and the cast that also includes Cole Hauser, Nick Chinlund, Johnny Messner and Eamonn Walker look authentic in the way they move, fire their weapons and communicate with each other while under fire. It was clear that a lot of preparation and time went into making the actors look as authentic as possible.
I’m well aware of the behind the scenes drama that took place as Willis clashed with director Antoine Fuqua but is just goes to show you that they are professionals and they still made the film and did it well. This has always been one of my favorite SEAL Team movies and this ending remains one of my favorites in terms of battle sequences. It just pays the ultimate respect to these true life warriors and shows how they never say die and fight until their last breath.
That’s enough talk on my end. If you haven’t seen the film then by all means check it out and if you have watched it then enjoy the rousing and blistering finale as America’s top warriors stare down an army and give them hell.