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Tears of the Sun is a Template:Fy 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.


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

Elsewhere, a squadron of SH-60B Seahawk helicopters approach the Template:USS aircraft carrier off the West African coast; a television reporter on the flight deck reports the occurring coup — he is interrupted by breaking news of the presidential family's assassination by the rebel military.

Lieutenant A.K. Waters and his Team of Navy Seals composed of 8 men.

Lieutenant A.K. Waters (Bruce Willis) and his SEAL team disembark from a helicopter, returned from extracting U.S. citizens from the embassy in Nigeria. Captain Bill Rhodes (Tom Skerritt) greets them on the deck, and immediately tells him they must return to extract a "critical personality" — immediately. After re-fitting for the mission, eating chow, and seeing the medic, they meet in the ship’s briefing room for the mission. They will HALO jump over Cameroon to the Nigerian jungle outside a small Catholic hospital mission, and extract Dr. Lena Fiore Kendricks (Monica Bellucci), a U.S. citizen by marriage. The secondary mission is extracting the missioner priest and two nuns running the mission — if willing. With their "package", the SEALs then hike twelve-klicks to the extraction point, to fly out, by helicopter.

The mission begins as planned, the team free-fall to the target area drop-zone. They force a local, young woman to lead them to Dr. Kendricks, Lt. Waters tells the doctor 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". Kendricks refuses to leave without the patients. Lt. Waters calls Cpt. Rhodes for options; after their short, ambiguous conversation, he concedes to Dr. Kendricks that they will take walking refugees. She agrees, and begins assembling the able-bodied for the twelve-kilometre hike. Irritated and behind schedule, the team and the refugees leave the hospital mission after daybreak. The journey is slow; guiding forty injured and wounded people is slow progress.

At nightfall, they take a short break, for the refugees to rest and Dr. Kendricks attend the sick. They establish a defensive perimeter. Moments after setting it, guerrilla rebels rapidly approach their position; Waters stealthily knifes the straggling tail-gunner. Dr. Kendricks worries to Lt. Waters that the rebels are going to the mission; he is determined to carry out orders, and they continue to the extraction point, and call the en route helicopters. When they land, Waters’s initial plan becomes clear, when the SEALs suddenly, at gun point, turn away the refugees from the awaiting helicopter. Lt. Waters forces Dr. Kendricks into the helicopter; the team collapse in, after them, for a swift extraction — leaving the refugees stranded in the jungle, unprotected against the rebels. En route to the aircraft carrier, they fly over the mission, seeing it raided, destroyed, and burning — as Dr. Kendricks predicted. Remorseful, Lt. Waters orders the pilot to return to the refugees. Unilaterally, he has decided that the mission now is to escort them to the Cameroon border.

During the hike to the border, they discover the rebels are tracking them, with satellite scans of their area, thus, they enjoy mysterious success tracking the SEALs. As they escape and evade the rebels, the team enter a village that rebel soldiers are massacring. Aware of having opportunity to stop ethnic cleansing, Lt. Waters orders the refugees remain on high ground, while the team assault the village. They do so surgically. In the aftermath, they become morally conscious, on seeing the after-effects of the atrocities.

Again en route, Slo (Nick Chinlund) determines that a refugee is transmitting the signal allowing the rebels to locate and attack them so easily. The search for the transmitter reveals the presence of Arthur Azuka (Sammi Rotibi), surviving son of deposed President Samuel Azuka, thus, why the rebels are hunting them, to ensure killing him. A newer "refugee" — picked up during the trek — is discovered with the transmitter on himself; on attempting flight, he is shot dead. Lt. Waters is angry at Dr. Kendricks, because she always knew about Arthur, yet never informed him.

In light of the recently occurred, they unanimously decide to continue escorting the refugees to Cameroon, regardless of the cost. A massive fire fight explodes between the SEALs and many rebels hidden in the trees. Forming a defensive line, they order the refugees to the tree line — from where the Nigeria–Cameroon border can be seen. Zee (Eamonn Walker) calls the Harry S. Truman for air support; two F/A-18 Hornet jet fighter aeroplanes leave, en route with fire support. The SEALs hold the line, falling back to the refugees, however, with overwhelming firepower, the rebels kill Slo, Flea (Chad Smith), Lake, and Silk. The refugee men provide some cover fire, for the remaining SEALs to fall back into some reeds, during which Lt. Waters, Red, and Zee are wounded — barely surviving as the fighter pilots ask where to drop their fire. The team light a smoke grenade, and order the pilots to bomb everywhere between the tree line and their smoke. Arthur and Dr. Kendricks are scrambling to the Cameroon border gate when they hear the thundering fighters’ approach. Terrified by the napalm fire dropped upon the rebel soldiers closing for the kill, and seeing the battlefield afire, they fear for the SEAL team.

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, where their wounds are tended. 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.

Actor Role Fate
Bruce Wills Lieutenant A.K. Waters Survives
Monica Bellucci Dr. Lena Kendricks Survives
Cole Hauser James "Red" Atkins Survives
Eamonn Walker Ellis "Zee" Pettigrew Survives
Johnny Messner
Kelly Lake || Killed
Nick Chinlund Michael "Slo" Slowenski Killed
Charles Ingram Demetrius "Silk" Owens Killed
Paul Francis Danny "Doc" Kelley Survives
Chad Smith Jason "Flea" Mabry Killed
Tom Skerritt Captain Bill Rhodes Survives
Malick Bowens Colonel Idris Sadick
Awaovieyi Agie Musa
Akosua Busia Patience
Ida Onyango Lansana
Sammi Rotibi Arthur Azuka
Jimmy Jean-Louis Gideon Killed

Total Movie Bodycount - Kill Count[]

Tears of the Sun (2003 [Theatrical & Unrated] BodyCount Breakdown:


F-18 Pilots (Mark Bedell and another Unknown): 73

James 'Red' Atkins (Cole Hauser): 29

Lt. A.K. Waters (Bruce Willis): 15

Demetrius 'Silk' Owens (Charles Ingram): 8

Danny 'Doc' Kelley (Paul Francis): 6

Terwase (Peter Mensah): 5

Jason 'Flea' Mabry (Chad Smith): 4

Michael 'Slo' Slowenski (Nick Chinlund): 4

Ellis 'Zee' Pettigrew (Eamonn Walker): 2

Kelly Lake (Johnny Messner): 2

Patience (Akosua Busia): 1

Extended Opening: 9 - 5 of President Azuka's guards bodies are seen after having been slaughtered by General Yabuku's men

- Terwase executes one of Azuka's daughters and kills Mr. and Mrs. Azuka and the other daughter off-screen (mentioned later)

Real-Life African Newsreel: 18

- A shirtless civilian is shot various times by another via machine gun

- One burnt corpse seen

- 7 dead children seen lying in a truck after an execution

- 9 tombstones seen (1 actual body seen; the rest are lumps in the ground- these count)

First Rendezvous/Regime's Arrival at the Hospital: 2 - Waters slits a Nigerian soldier's throat - Terwase decapitates one of the missionaries/aides off-screen

Different Agenda: 1

- When the helicopters turn around, a burnt village is seen with one dead villager's corpse being picked on by a vulture

Ethnic Cleansing: 90

- Nigerian soldiers kill 1 innocent woman and 3 other bodies are shown from their raid (as seen through the binoculars)

- Two others shot and another body visible through the SEAL's binocular viewpoint

- Flea and Silk each snipe a rebel

- Flea snipes another rebel on a truck, carrying an Uzi

- Silk snipe another wandering rebel

- At least 31 villagers' bodies seen all piled up

- Two Rebels seen throwing an extra body into the heap of previously seen corpses

- Waters shoots those two aforementioned rebels with his silenced pistol

- A Rebel shoot an innocent, strapped to a wooden post, with their AK-47 and Flea snipes that rebel with Silk sniping two others nearby

- One innocent stabbed with a machete in a Hut with another shown dead from fatal head bashing

- Waters shoots the two guards inside and Doc slits another's throat

- An assaulted woman's dead husband's corpse seen in the hut as well

- Lake shoots 1 guard in the head while Red breaks the rapist's neck in the second hut

- *A charred corpse and another corpse inside the second hut

- Around 11 tombstones visible by the crying female villager

- 5 other villager's corpses seen while Slo gun down 2 guards and Doc briefly shoots 1 in the background

- 5 other villager's bodies seen in the praying prisoner shot (exactly at 00:56:26)

- Waters guns down 3 guards

- A villager in the trees snipes a guard, who was attacking Waters with a machete

- Lake kills a kid rapist and Zee stabs another in the stomach in the third hut

- A dead girl seen in the third hut as well

- A victimized woman dies after guards chop her breasts off

- Silk is seen carrying another dead victim while another fresh corpse is seen by burnt wood

Traitor Amongst Us: 1

- A fleeing Gideon is sniped by Silk

Delaying the Inevitable: 15

- Red rigs up Gideon's corpse with explosives, blowing up 11 of Terwase's troops

- Red blows up an additional 4 soldiers with the C4

Forest Stand-Off: 39

- Zee fires his grenade launcher and Red throws a grenade at the same tree, blowing up a sniper

- Slo and Doc blow up 2 soldiers each with grenades

- Doc and Waters both blow up two soldiers (one of them armed with an RPG)

- Around 3 dead bodies seen after the aforementioned soldier fires an RPG rocket at a nearby tree

- Arthur Azuka's bodyguard and two other innocent's bodies seen while Slo succumbs to severe wounds from the RPG blast

- Another innocent is shot in the chest by Terwase's men

- Silk (shown off-screen) briefly takes down 2 soldiers (he gets the point since it's his exact same gun sound plus Doc is reloading in the last shot, Willis' gun can't be heard, Hauser is ducking for cover, Messner is firing afterwards and his gun sound isn't at all audible during that period and Zee is busy calling for air support)

- Red's planted claymore explodes upon 4 soldiers

- Waters is the last to throw a grenade, killing one soldier

- An explosion engulfs two nigerian soldiers in the background (possibly friendly fire)

- Flea shoots down a heavily-armed soldier with his assault rifle

- Red machine-guns 2 soldiers briefly in the background while the refugees retreat

- Red and Waters both shoot one-a-piece in the background

- Waters and Red both appear to machine gun a soldier at the same time

- Waters machine-guns another soldier in the background (the viewpoint is blurry yet visible behind his ear)

- Waters shoots another soldier in the background

- A refugee being guided by Lake is gunned down

- Another refugee blown up by an RPG, by Terwase's men

- Flea is shot to death by the soldiers

- Lake succumbs to bullet wounds as well while Red machine-guns another

- Patience shoots a soldier with an AK-47

- Silk (shown off-screen again) and Red both shoot 1 soldier each in the background by the river

- Red shoots another soldier while Silk retreats

- Silk is gunned down and succumbs as he falls into the river

Approaching the Cameroon Safe Zone: 76

- Doc shoots two of Terwase's men

- Red guns down another with his pistol

- Approximately 73 Nigerian soldiers (Including Terwase himself) are seen before being engulfted by the big-ass missiles, fired by the F-18 pilots

[THE FINAL TALLY = 251] *Indicates an added death scene in the Director's Cut according to movie-censorship.com


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.[2][3] 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. 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." [4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Template:Mojo title
  2. Template:Rotten-tomatoes
  3. Tears of the Sun (2003): Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2009-07-09.
  4. Ebert, Roger. "Tears of the Sun". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved on 2009-06-18.

External links[]

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