Wednesday, December 13, 2006

MOVIE REVIEW: Blood Diamond

I saw the movie over the weekend but it's been crazy busy making time to sit down and post about it, so here goes. 2006 has been the year of making a man out of Leonardo Di Caprio. Some may say his manhood was firmly established in films like Gangs of New York and the Aviator. Some, who will remain nameless, females, would have us believe that this event occurred during the blockbuster hit Titanic. As you may well know none of them got it right! Mr. Di Caprio grew a pair in Martin Scorcese's fast paced action flick The Departed back in September. He earned his stripes as a toughie from Southie; an undercover cop matching wits with the big boys like Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon. In his next film Blood Diamond, Leo doubles down on his tough guy attitude and turns in a pretty gritty performance as a mercenary trying to smuggle conflict diamonds out of Sierra Leone, Africa. Throw in a solid cast including the beautiful Jennifer Connelly and the always dependable Djimon Hounsou and you've got yourself a pretty slick action movie.
The film explores the terrible conditions of Sierra Leone in the 1990's where Guerrilla forces use slavery, crime and murder to smuggle priceless diamonds out of the country. Solomon Vandy, (Djimon Hounsou) a Mende Fisherman, is kidnapped by one of these guerrilla outfits. He is forced at gun point to work along the river looking for priceless diamonds. The film is often brutal showing the cruel nature of these guerrilla forces as they terrorize small towns killing anyone they choose and stealing children to manipulate them into joining their ranks. A large un-cut diamond comes into Solomon's possession. Danny Archer, (Leonardo Di Caprio) A South African mercenary, hears about this diamond and decides to help Solomon recover his family in exchange for the priceless stone. Maddy Bowen, an American journalist, (Jennifer Connelly) serves as Danny's conscience, trying to steer him in the right direction when he starts acting like a scoundrel.

The sub-plot is nothing entirely new. Danny, the mercenary hard case, learns the hard lessons about his chosen profession and the cost toward human life every time he smuggles a diamond out of the country. The message here is sound but sometimes it feels heavy handed in this very high charged action film. Hansou as Solomon is great, you can feel his frustration and anger as he tries to adapt with every situation thrown at him. I admire Director Edward Zwick for trying to have the best of both worlds. On one side you have a savvy action story. On the other you show the incredibly true and terrible drama unfolding in a little country in the middle of Africa. It is so graphic and it will definitely make anyone who has ever bought a diamond feel like an ass hole. If you're feeling a sigh of relief because you've never bought a diamond in your whole life this film still makes you feel like a jack ass with blinders on. The problem with the story is that it is too real. You can't really enjoy yourself because you know that it's not a made up story that some of these things happen in this country. There probably is no real happy ending. As much as I would love the big corrupt Diamond merchants of the world to be revealed as solicitous bastards more interested in the treasure collected in these countries rather than human life. I know that this is the world we live in and money and greed will always rule the day, but it's not really the happy ending we look for. I think anyone not aware of Conflict Diamonds and the situation in many countries on the continent of Africa very much need to see this film, if not for Leo, maybe for a little perspective on a very serious global issue. Remember when you buy your diamonds this Christmas try to do a little homework, make sure you buy stones that are legit, you got it?

Grade: 3 Buckets


Cody Dee Williams said...

For my money, the film that best explores the controversy surrounding African conflict diamonds is DIE ANOTHER DAY. It is and always will be!

Anonymous said...

Blood Diamands was great, but Jeff next time dont tell the whole movie!

Peace Out home boy!