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Blood Diamond
Genre Adventure
Year: 2006
 
Review:
Blood Diamond is an intense, thrilling, blood-drenched action drama about diamond smuggling in Africa. The story rests on the capable shoulders of Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou, who were both nominated for Oscars for their performances. At the helm is Edward Zwick, another big name in Oscar history, who lays claim to other pearls such as Glory, Legends of the Fall, Shakespeare in Love, Traffic and The Last Samurai. Danny Archer is a Zimbabwean, ex-mercenary diamond smuggler. He overhears that a sizeable diamond has been discovered, which could set him up for life - if not in wealth, then years to be served. Solomon Vandy is a local farmer, who finds the precious stone whilst sifting in a river, under the watchful eye of the rebel soldiers. He manages to plant the diamond without it being intercepted in the hope of returning to claim it for himself. He is arrested, and it is in prison that his efforts are exploited without any immediate consequence.

Archer strikes a deal with Solomon, who is released from prison only to find himself on the run with Danny. Archer meets Maddy (Jennifer Connelly) a US journalist, intent on changing the world’s perception on the diamond market with a focus on African diamonds. She tries to coerce Danny into giving her the unadulterated version of the crisis from a smuggler’s perspective. He does so in dribs-and-drabs as she tags along the ride to enable journalistic privileges for Archer and Vandy. Danny pretends to be a journalist, and Solomon a cameraman as the trio are dragged through some intense, death-defying moments to recover the priceless diamond.

Archer is the middle-man in almost every situation as he pulls on the strings of all of those around him to meet his needs. He ropes Solomon, Maddy and a South African Colonel (Arnold Vosloo) into the plan to recover the diamond, and the consequences are dire. A rebel training camp for young guns is uncovered, and the red dust of the African soil draws a darker complexion as the blood flows. Every character want something, but it’s all about who will claim the diamond and who will be left face down in the dirt?

Blood Diamond is lifted from the muck and mire of mediocrity by some dominating performances and fine cinematography. Connelly looks a little out of her league against some scene-stealing moments with or between DiCaprio and Hounsou. The views of Africa are majestic and paint a beautiful, but tragic African story of greed, family, purpose and sacrifice. Edward Zwick fills the director’s chair, and adds another compelling drama to his growing portfolio of screen gems (pun intended). His versatility is shown in the way he can compose a series of action adventure scenes, only to turn his attention to the intricacies and complexities of a relationship in a pressured environment. All contributions add up to one memorable and meaningful film. It’s a pity that neither DiCaprio nor Hounsou were awarded Oscars. Perhaps they were unlucky, or the Academy feels that they have more to offer before they fill that empty spot of their mantelpiece.

Overall, Blood Diamond serves as a wake up call to the world. A simple story becomes a double-edged sword in its dual purpose as a social commentary. Zwick gives the audience something to think about in this powerful action drama that raises awareness on the bloody trail from diamond dealers back to the origin of their trade. Want to help? Don’t buy conflict diamonds.

It’s fantastic to see films about Africa really making a dent in the Hollywood armour. Hotel Rwanda, The Last King of Scotland and Blood Diamond are just some recent examples of what is possible with Africa as a setting and theme. Let’s hope the industry can explore darkest Africa even further. The pot is full of conflict, and I hope something positive can be wrenched from the land’s history in future endeavours. If Spielberg could find Schindler’s List in the Holocaust, then someone can definitely find something worth celebrating in the real-life struggle for recognition in Africa.

The bottom line: Thrilling.

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