Written by Charles Leavitt
Directed by Edward Zwick
Running Time: 2:17
for strong violence and language.
Blood Diamond was a good, but not great film, mainly because of an extended 'love' story that served no purpose other than to slow down the rest of the movie.
Solomon Vandy is a peaceful family man with a wife and three young children. One day a rebel group attacks his village and kidnaps Solomon, separating him from his family. He is put to work in a diamond mine where he uncovers a rare pink diamond. Danny Archer is a white South African who traffics in conflict diamonds. When both are jailed, Danny discovers Solomon's secret diamond and under the guise of helping him find his family, teams up with Solomon to recover the diamond. Along the way they utilize the services of Maddy Bowen, a journalist determined to undercover the secrets of the conflict diamond trade. Together the fight for their lives in an attempt to help Solomon reconnect with his family, including his young son who has now joined the rebel group himself.
First and foremost, Blood Diamond is an actor's movie, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou delivering standout performances. In fact, without the two of them in the film, it wouldn't have been nearly as captivating. I truly believe DiCaprio has climbed to the top of the pool of great young actors of his generation. He may have started off as a pretty face on Growing Pains, but he has developed into a tremendous actor. It's only a matter of time before he wins an Academy Award. And speaking of awards, after his choice as best Supporting Actor by the National Board of Review, Djimon Hounsou may well be on his way to an Academy nomination this year. His performance was extremely powerful and he quickly became the heart and soul of the film. Together they made a fantastic team and performed well opposite each other. Jennifer Connelly gave a good performance, but her character's story wasn't nearly as interesting and only seemed to be there to help drag in more females to the theater.
Her relationship with Danny was the main reason the movie didn't live up to expectations. The movie starts off with a bang, and is highly intense right from the get go. It is also very violent so expect a lot of brutal and graphic bloodshed. We get into the story quickly enough and the idea behind the movie is good, but sometimes the dialogue became cheesy and felt like it was lifted from a Lifetime film. When Maddy shows up the movie comes to a halt. Then there was an extended scene where Maddy and Danny are sitting and talking. The scene must have lasted a good 15 minutes and it brought the movie to a complete standstill. Up until then the movie had been flowing along rather nicely, with a lot of action and a good story. But anytime Danny and Maddy felt the need to flirt with each other, the movie stalled and lost momentum.
The story couldn't decide whether it wanted to be a movie about conflict diamonds, and having children joining rebel armies, against their will. And even after the movie ended and we got to see a written coda, it went first to conflict diamonds, then on to the amount of children forced to fight. Because we would go back and forth from the search for the diamond to the search for Solomon's son, the movie felt unfocused. I knew I was supposed to be upset at what was happening, but which one was supposed to disturb me more? Seeing young kids carrying machine guns and killing people without thinking about it? Or seeing how far people are willing to go to sell some diamonds? Granted, the two stories are linked, but since the 'bad guys' in the diamond trade were portrayed as white diamond dealers from London, there wasn't enough of a connection between them and the rebel leaders (and governments) of the African nations dealing in diamonds. If there could have been some scenes that tied the two together, something to keep the two stories connected other than Solomon's son, I think it would have made for a stronger movie. As it is, as much as I enjoyed what I saw, mentally and emotionally I never felt like I was in synch with the movie.
Blood Diamond is one of those films which I found to be more accessible on the small screen. You still can feel the power and strength of the movie, but in the comfort of your own home. I didn't find that I necessarily enjoyed it any more the second time around, but the acting was still pretty impressive. Extras on the DVD include some director commentary and a couple of documentaries on how the diamonds you buy at your local store get there and female journalists on the front lines, along with one on DiCaprio. If you haven't seen the movie yet, while it's not the greatest film ever made, it is definitely one worth checking out.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I felt Blood Diamond was a good film, but it could have been better. The performances of DiCaprio and Hounsou truly carried the day and if you take out the 'love' story, cut about 30 minutes from the movie and make it more focused, you'd have the makings of a great film.
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