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  Publicity Stills of "Blood Diamond"
(Courtesy from Warner Bros)

Genre: Adventure/Drama/Thriller
Director: Edward Zwick
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly, Dijimon Hounsou, Arnold Vosloo, Stephen Collins, Michael Sheen
RunTime: 2 hrs 18 mins
Released By: Warner Bros
Rating: NC-16 (Violence)

Opening Day: 4 January 2007

Synopsis :
Set against the backdrop of civil war and chaos in 1990's Sierra Leone, Blood Diamond is the story of Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) - a South African mercenary - and Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) - a Mende fisherman. Both men are African, but their histories as different as any can be, until their fates become joined in a common quest to recover a rare pink diamond that can transform their lives. While in prison for smuggling, Archer learns that Solomon - who was taken from his family and forced to work in the diamond fields - has found and hidden the extraordinary rough stone. With the help of Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), an American journalist whose idealism is tempered by a deepening connection with Archer, the two men embark on a trek through rebel territory, a journey that could save Solomon's family and give Archer the second chance he thought he would never have.

Movie Review:

There’s an almost obligatory stink of condescension towards its execrable subject matter in Edward Zwick’s “Blood Diamond”. Going against the wisely sowed musings of various Africans in the film regarding a human being’s essential nature, it blithely tosses the blame card to the West and any first-world countries that do not involve themselves in the African misery. It predictably wears its heart on its sleeve, but is so easily prone to the complicated mire of good intentions that it is regrettably unglued to the film’s pursuit of being a mildly entertaining action melodrama.

The controversy surrounding these ‘conflict diamonds’ started months before the film’s release, ironically doing more good in corporate circles that actually have a direct voice in opposing the effects of these baleful gemstones. And perhaps to jewelers everywhere that are even the slightest bit concerned of the film’s backlash can take heed in that the “Blood Diamond” is essentially set in the late 90s, during a time when there wasn’t something called the Kimberley Process, which certifies that diamond acquisitions have not been used to finance armed rebels.

1999, Sierra Leone is in a midst of a civil war and Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) is a loving family man unexpectedly captured and separated from his wife and children, forced to mine for diamonds by radical rebellion forces that fund their murderous agendas by selling these gems to outside bidders through a intricate network of smugglers, middlemen and buyers. Its early scenes take no prisoners and are duly uncompromising. But in an absurdly crafted plot device, Solomon becomes complicit in a scheme forced onto him by a white Zimbabwean diamond smuggler named Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) in just one of the many allusions to white devil, black slave dependency that Zwick accentuates throughout their tumultuous relationship. They join up with the dashingly amoral smuggler’s “love interest”, Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), a suitably inconsequential character that only services parts of the plot and not enough of its overarching message in the film’s sanctimonious pursuit of impeachment and responsibility.

While the film address too many of issues and tries to fix the entire spectra of Africa’s problems, its contradictory message between its main players end up becoming racialist. There’s no discernable creative benefits of casting a white actor in the lead role aside from the throwaway lines of the stupefying rah-rah rhetoric of “we are African, we bleed red” tripe that negates the tenuous characterisation of DiCaprio’s Archer when he straddles the moral quandaries of his character’s African-ness. In fact, every white character becomes increasingly important while the dark-skinned masses that are torn to shreds by the automatic gunfire seem to be noticeably anonymous.

DiCaprio and Hounsou give all they can in their performances. An unhinged Hounsou overpowers DiCaprio's performance thoroughly in every scene they share. Running the full gamut of emotions, it’s a wonder he has anything left in the tank soon after an underdeveloped subplot surrounding the brainwashing and realignment of moral lines in children by the conscious-stripping, soul engulfing brutality of genocide.

Now, despite its overly earnest moral aptitude, its inflated runtime and the overhyped publicity machine, “Blood Diamond” does use fact to support its fiction. The continent’s natural resources are bait for vulturous gangs, as it is statistically proven that strife increases as new resources are mined with rival gangs marking their territory with blood. Unfortunately, while it insists that diamond and trading companies don’t just deal with the tangibility of gemstones but with the lives and blood of millions of Africans, its underlying cynicism just does not sit well with its preachy self-fellating deliberateness that ends the moment the reel does.

Movie Rating:

(Hollow and detached storytelling of a tale that needed to be told)

Review by Justin Deimen


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