Dark of the Sun is a pretty terrible movie and you want to get that out in front as soon as possible. It goes for the ultra dark/gritty vibe right out of the gate and it succeeds but at the expense of being a solid movie. Early on you figure this could be a rather classic adventure film with a group of guys being recruited to do a solid job. There are some red flags but it seems all right. Then the film gradually begins to fall off of the rails before self destructing entirely.
The movie starts with President Ubi of the Congo hiring Bruce as a mercenary to get a bunch of diamonds that are currently stranded in a town behind enemy lines. Of course officially the mission is to save the people there but unofficially they all know that the diamonds are what is important. They need them in order to get more weapons and back-up to fight off the other side. This mission must be completed within 3 days or the Congo will fall. Bruce and his friend Ruffo will have to grab some of the best people for the job but options are limited. So they end up with a drunk doctor Wreid and the nazi Henlein. Will they be able to get the diamonds and save the town?
So remember I was talking about those red flags? Yeah the biggest one was the fact that a Nazi would be on the team. One who still proudly wears the insignia and all that so he is clearly evil and insane. Why even let this guy on? I feel like they should have taken him out early on or something because this could only possibly come back to haunt them. In no way would this ever end up working out and sure enough he causes a lot of problems down the road.
It certainly works as shock value to have a character like this in the mix but I’d rather they have just bypassed this guy altogether. As I mentioned though, the first half isn’t bad. It’s like the Magnificent Seven as Bruce rounds up his team only this time we only have a few real characters and the rest are mostly unnamed soldiers. They need a full battalion to fight off the enemy after all and even use a train to get to the town. It’s rather defenseless against planes though and they lose a lot of men just trying to fight one off. It seemed like a rather petty move by the UN since Bruce explained their mission but they wouldn’t hear of it.
There is some decent banter here and the characters keep it moving but then they run into a lady named Claire who is one of the only survivors from another attack. She is let on the ship so she can be safe there but naturally Henlein is still around and trying to make things difficult. He keeps on trying to attack her and fortunately Bruce was around to stop him but the guy still gets off easy.
Heinlein is actually the one who attacks Bruce and very nearly murders him but when Bruce finally turns the tables he is interrupted by his friend Ruffo right before he can finish the job. Of course murdering the guy is going too far but they should at least have arrested him or tied him to a tree until they got back. Not sure if they have handcuffs so tying him up would be best. We now know that he is willing to murder and assault his comrades so why keep him free at all? There’s no way he will actually be someone that you can trust and the argument that they need him is outweighed by these facts.
Every scene with Henlein is annoying and the characters just give him way too much freedom. This really comes back to bite them too. It’s not even a hindsight thing because even in the moment you feel like they’re making a massive mistake. This just ends up getting worse and worse as the film goes on. Sure none of these guys are big heroes but there’s a big difference between being rough around the edges and actually trying to murder everybody.
It’s too bad we didn’t focus more on the political part because President Ubi seemed like a quality character. A lot of the best dialogue was between him, Bruce, and the rich guy. I could have a lot of fun with that being the main plot and there’s a lot of ways to keep that interesting all the way through. Instead we cut to the adventure and all the grit. The film really goes overboard when the heroes are unable to save the village and we see them all get tormented to death. The whole scene is definitely very disturbing and goes on for quite a while. Some people off themselves to escape this before it happens while others don’t get off so quickly.
While you understand the gravity of being caught by the enemy side and the suffering that it entails, you never want to actually have that on screen. If anything you don’t want it to be implied either since you already know it. The film is all about its shock value and being rather violent but all it does is weaken the movie as a whole. Even to the end the final fights here are really brutal. You can definitely see why Bruce did what he did, but it could have been handled in a lot of ways to have been less savage.
Bruce is a solid lead for the most part who knows how to command a crew and stay alive but he definitely didn’t handle this situation as well as possible. Likewise Ruffo is a good friend and ally the whole time but he also should have handled the Henlein situation a lot better. Some things shouldn’t be waved away especially when you don’t know the context like how he handled Henlein. I didn’t care for the doctor much though. Wreid was always drunk and while his big moment helped try to make him heroic, it also felt like it was too little too late. Hopefully things worked out for him but he put himself in a rough spot too.
Claire is good and you feel bad for her because she went from one life threatening situation to another. She’s really had a rough time of it but does her best and doesn’t complain. There’s a bit of a romance that the film starts to set up there but there isn’t really any time for that so the movie puts it on hold. I would have actually preferred we get a romance plot instead of how it all unfolded. This could have been a classic adventure film which may have been a bit generic but still executed well.
Overall, This film is just way too gruesome the whole time. The second half destroys all the goodwill that the first half brought. The characters also aren’t smart at all in letting a Nazi join the group. Full stop. If they had not done that then the film could have been completely different so they only have themselves to blame for that one. Next time you command a team you want to make sure you don’t have any clearly evil guys on your squad from the start. Sure there could be traitors but at least reduce your odds of that being the case from the jump. Either way you definitely want to stay far away from this film. It’s got a lot going on, but a lot that you can afford to miss.