Blood Diamond (2006)
Blood Diamond (2006)

Genre: Adventure and Thriller Running Time: 2 hrs. 23 min.

Release Date: December 8th, 2006 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Edward Zwick Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly, Kagiso Kuypers, Arnold Vosloo, Benu Mabhena, David Harewood, Basil Wallace, Michael Sheen

 


 

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n the war-torn lands of West Africa’s Sierra Leone, Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) finds peace within his family and the hopeful prospects of his son’s future. But fate (and rebel guerrilla forces) won’t allow such serenity for long, as Vandy is violently torn from his loved ones and forced to work in a precious metals mining field. There he discovers an extremely rare blood diamond, but quickly buries the treasure to prevent his sadistic captors from acquiring it. After an attack on the mining camp, Solomon is “rescued” and thrown in prison, where he meets Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio), a crafty scoundrel of a smuggler who learns of Vandy’s valuable discovery and propositions a trade: the jewel for a reunion with his family. With the additional help of a headstrong American journalist (Jennifer Connelly), the two begin a treacherous descent back into the ghastly depths of a country ravished by greed and civil war.

From the get go, “Blood Diamond” jumps right into the chillingly realistic war violence of Sierra Leone’s conflicted landscape. But what should have made for compelling action and peril only succeeds half the time, due to earlier lackluster character development and clichéd dialogue. Once DiCaprio’s character is finally and properly portrayed as the troubled antihero destined for redemption, the audience can begin to care about what happens to him. But regardless of the delayed emotional impact, the battle sequences themselves are unquestionably superb, with harrowing gun fracases and fiery explosions stifling the traumatic odyssey. Blood, dirt, and bullets fly as DiCaprio indulges in several gritty shootouts reminiscent of “Black Hawk Down” or director Edward Zwick’s own “Courage Under Fire.” A couple of these moments of pure chaotic bliss are something of a sensory overload, turning the picture momentarily into a blow-‘em-up actioner rather than the potent message piece it wishes to become. But, as with Zwick’s swordplay epic “The Last Samurai,” he again proves he’s no amateur when it comes to staging astonishingly realistic recreations of combat.

Early on, the dialogue and acting is rather bland, requiring Hounsou and Connelly to steadily earn viewer interests as the film advances. Surprisingly, this leaves the standout performance to belong to DiCaprio, who, despite the cringe-inducing accent from the theatrical trailers (Archer is from Rhodesia, hence the eccentricity), is easily the most entertaining figure on the screen. As his motives and conduct continually change from despicable to admirable (he’s a cold-blooded executioner one minute and a saintly savior the next), DiCaprio shapes a reckless adventurer worth rooting for (an Indiana Jones type with an R-rated edge).

Though exhibiting plenty of potential with its production value, “Blood Diamond” ultimately suffers from a lack of focus and indecisive direction. Shifting from tiring documentary expose to action/adventure epic and back again, this confused thriller slips into a preachy morality tale a few too many times (featuring strong messages presented through weak avenues). The end result may not be wholly entertaining throughout, but it still manages to provide an informative, important, and scarily authentic insight into the ruinous world of conflict diamonds and third-world hostilities. Plus, an unexpectedly amusing turn by DiCaprio awaits those who can look past the flawed pacing, the terribly ill-fitting rap song at the close, and the overlong running time.

– The Massie Twins

  • 6/10