- Edward Zwick
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Thursday, March 01, 2007
First and foremost I feel obliged to mention the one characteristic that I thought was excellent, and thatís Leonardo DiCaprioís performance. He excels all the way, but thatís not news, even the same year he gave one of his most awesome showcases in Martin Scorseseís The Departed. But in Blood Diamond I saw him show amazing freshness and bravura, mixed with some dark humor and pathos so successfully that he reminded me of Marlon Brando. He simply knocked me down.
DiCaprioís character is quite the opposite to the one played by Djimon Hounsou, though both performances are astounding. The former plays Danny Archer, a diamond contrabandist in Sierra Leone, where diamonds are the stuff that dreams are made of and, just like the object such described in classic cinema, also cause quite a few deaths. The backdrop is social consciousness; how many happy brides-to-be receive their wedding rings not suspecting that the diamond on it was smuggled and probably killed for? Whatís worse: the hunger for diamonds derives into guerrillas, slavery and kidnapping, or worse.
Hounsou plays Solomon Vandy, enslaved after his town is savaged by diamond hunters. His family is torn apart, with his son Dia (Kagiso Kuypers) kidnapped by the same men and brainwashed into a child-soldier of their own. Vandy finds a particularly large and valuable stone, hides it and manages to escape, and when Archer finds out about this, he sets to get the stone at any cost. Admittedly, Archerís means can turn nasty, but heís even willing to help Solomon if necessary. A sexy journalist he meets in the way, Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), becomes his conscience as he offers her aid if and only if Solomon is actually helped.
There could be two ways to catalogue this movie: itís both an action film and an educational one, in the strict way that a character learns an important lesson. Itís pretty obvious from the start that Archer should and will become a better person, though why and how is unclear. Despite DiCaprioís brilliant performance, this aspect of the story is managed poorly by Charles Leavittís screenplay (from a story by himself and C. Gaby Mitchell) and Zwickís direction. In fact, though Solomonís story is heartbreaking (and Hounsouís performance truly gifted), there seems to be a tendency to undermine the characters in favor of an action flick which this ends up being.
Now, the action pays off! Since the motivation is better achieved than that of the average action movie, weíre more than thrilled to see these characters come out unharmed; which they do mostly, sometimes in implausible ways. Thereís a lot of chase and run, and the masterful work of editor Steven Rosenblum and cinematographer Eduardo Serra shows at every turn. And since Iím mentioning the team, I canít stop short of praising James Newton Howard, whose music score is impressive.
I have mixed feelings in the end. I enjoyed the ride, loved the performances (though Connelly was wasted), and pleasured my eyes and ears, but I felt aloof. I guess I didnít quite get the punch line. So I decided to gather what was best during the buildup.
ďIn America, itís bling bling. But out here itís bling bang.Ē
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Other reviews of Blood Diamond (2006): Morris