- Edward Zwick
- Reviewed by
- José Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Monday, February 19, 2007
Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a South-African diamond smuggler who finds the opportunity of his life when he meets Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) in prison. As it happens, while Solomon was working as a slave for the R.F.U. in war-torn Sierra Leone he came upon a huge pink diamond which he buried. Archer sees it as a way to escape his troubled life, but Solomon needs it to get his family back and especially his kidnapped son who is forced to become a child-soldier. Archer also recruits the help of reporter Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), who wants to write something meaningful that could change the course of the atrocities taking place in the continent.
The movie is based upon a story by C. Gaby Mitchell and Charles Leavitt, the latter of whom also wrote the screenplay. It is neither an easy story to tell nor an easy movie to watch. The violent problems surrounding Africa have been present for decades, and as one character puts it, the more valuable resources are found in their soil the more people suffer from it. It is a sad statement, but unfortunately true. And the hugely profitable diamond empire is the movie’s main target, as some people are willing to kill and get involved with the dirtiest form of corruption and exploitation to keep the business going.
So the message is clear, but the employed form is not really that successful in getting all of its ideas across; a clearer focus was needed. Blood Diamond is essentially a chase movie, with Archer and Vandy on a mission that is filled with countless obstacles, most of which involve clever actions, stupid actions and a lot of bullets (while somehow they always seem to be the only ones to escape alive). Then there’s the character of Archer, the protagonist, who is a real enigma. I know characters don’t need to be essentially good or bad, but I never got him and the forced finale left me feeling absolutely nothing. It is Solomon that we come to care and understand, and because of him and his personal quest the movie never ceases to be watchable. A romantic subplot is also inserted with mixed results.
There certainly are a lot of harrowing scenes and a brutal depiction of the situation in Africa. It never stops being disturbing and the movie remains truthful in its portrayal of such events. Movies like this should be watched by everyone, because regardless of their entertainment value they have something important to show the world. My utmost respect goes to its creators for this reason alone.
It also helps that director Zwick has surrounded himself with a top-notch creative team including cinematographer Eduardo Serra and composer James Newton Howard. The movie is impeccably made.
Leonardo DiCaprio has had a spectacular year and the man deserves it. Not only is he one of the best actors of his generation, but he also knows how to choose his projects and the people he works with. His performance here is harrowing and intense, exactly what is required of him at every turn. Djimon Hounsou also leaves a strong impression as a man desperate to bring his family together. He delivers powerful work and almost steals the movie. Jennifer Connelly somehow gets lost in the shuffle, but she’s excellent nonetheless. A solid ensemble all-around.
“God left this place a long time ago.”
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Other reviews of Blood Diamond (2006): Groucho