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Overall Rating

Awesome: 29.07%
Worth A Look: 29.07%
Pretty Bad: 1.16%
Total Crap: 5.81%

7 reviews, 44 user ratings

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Blood Diamond
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by Erik Childress

"Guys Finally Have An Excuse Never To Buy Diamonds Again"
3 stars

Against what may be better critical judgment, I have always been a fan of Edward Zwick’s work. Never without his share of flaws, Zwick is still a director’s director unafraid to mix spectral epic filmmaking with the grander themes of acceptance and unity that usually bring emotional closure after a good bloodletting, both metaphorical and literal. Characters get big speeches in-between the impressively-staged carnage and a white man is usually our guide through minority country except when he’s working with Denzel. That latter part has been a thorn irk in the side of many (and not just on Zwick’s part), but this time around the whole film almost feels like a statement on that very claim. A story of the atrocities of the illegal diamond trade just doesn’t make for an interesting report on the news when most of us are just waiting around for sports, weather or the local happenings. That’s one of many reasons cinema can be such an important medium; our own guide on a grander scale that can provide us with more than just a few facts on the subject and provoke a gut check if necessary. Except its those few facts that remain the most interesting part of Blood Diamond, another “important” adventure film where the surrounding substance again buries the lead.

In 1999, Africa’s Sierra Leone is under siege by rebels. Not content with just terrorizing the government, they scourge their own citizens searching for the strongest to work in the diamond camps, the youngest to convert to their cause and maiming the rest. One such victim is Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) who is unable to protect his son, Dia (Caruso Kuypers) from the vicious Captain Poison (David Harewood). His boy is captured and Solomon witnesses first hand the consequences of trying to hide booty from the pirates. Nevertheless, when he comes upon a unique beauty of a diamond with a pink shading inside he buries the precious stone and escapes the Captain’s grasp when both are incarcerated.

Catching wind of Solomon’s find is Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio), a smuggler who has spent his whole life in Africa and works as a go-between for both the corrupt Colonel Coetzee (Arnold Vosloo) and the wealthy UK diamond manufacturers (Michael Sheen & Marius Weyers) who pay handsomely even while fronting a concern for “conflict stones” on a U.N. committee. Archer is your atypical “soldier of fortune”, leaving politics to the others and being rewarded for his denial in cash. American journalist, Maddie Bowen (Jennifer Connelly) flirts her way into Danny’s conscience, looking for an inside man who can help expose the atrocities of the illegal diamond trade in an article she’s been trying to write. Danny eventually relents and makes partners of both Solomon and Maddy; promising to help find his son (before he goes the route of The Searchers) in exchange for the pink diamond (the great score that he can retire on) and blowing all the whistles to Maddy as, I suppose, a parting gift.

Zwick and screenwriter CharlesK-PAXLeavitt have a lot of plot to cover in setting up what is essentially a high-falutin’ treasure hunt. Archer and Solomon’s relationship is one of obvious conflicts of multiple interest, but its increasingly ambiguous nature works in contrast to developing either a believable bonding or adversarial nature. Archer works with such an on/off switch that it’s difficult to decipher when he’s speaking from the heart or when he’s saying precisely what his counterpart of the moment wants to hear. But it’s clear from the start that Zwick and Leavitt aren’t out to make Archer into an anti-hero, but just another in a long string of audience eyes who would understand monetary gain first only to be educated in the human element that signs those checks in blood.

When the film finally settles down into a quest picture about 90 minutes in, it doesn’t engage us in the tradition of grand adventure stories. They hide from some rebels, Archer lays down the law about silence, they climb, find a rebel camp and call in an air strike from the very people they just fled from as if it were their plan all along. Finally, when it comes down to the stone retrieval, its such an anti-climactic moment that Solomon may as well have just put it in a safe deposit box. Zwick does excel at large-scale battlefields as anyone who has seen Glory, Courage Under Fire or The Last Samurai can tell you, and there are more than a few escapes and strafings to hold our attention even if our emotion for the characters have been left well behind with the other heavy lifting.

Ultimately it’s a leap of faith considering the clientel of the diamond market. Are women suddenly going to find a new best friend? Will rap stars and athletes hear the pitter-patter of “bling BANG” the next time they need a sparkly clock to hang around their package? Nevermore. Who on their engagement ring hunt after seeing Blood Diamond is going to go through the research runaround to see if the yearly salary they are laying down is being used on a stone from a war-torn area? You have a greater shot of your fiancé being Superman and squeezing a rock out of a lump of coal.

Blood Diamond takes on the kind of corrupt moral uncertainties of a world we’d rather turn the page or channel on, but hits audiences too hard with it. Zwick would have been better off using the serious stuff as window dressing for a Sierra Madre like conflict instead of the kind that delivers its own standing ovation in the end when the crusaders win out. Either that or jettison it as an action vehicle altogether and crafting an insider’s view via the means of a Fast Food Nation or Traffic. As a mish-mash of the two we’re left with about half of each and speeches filling in the blanks in an attempt to convince us how important everything is. I don’t know how much Joe Everyman can do to squelch genocidal smuggling since the dent that can be created depends on those who can actually afford said diamonds in the first place. Does this put the onus on the “bling bling” crowd? At least Zwick has given men everywhere an excuse for their ladies the next time they expect a bigger piece of jewelry than their friends. Honey, did you know that everytime I buy a ring, ten Africans lose their hands? Bling Bang THAT, bee-yotch!

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originally posted: 12/08/06 16:21:35
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User Comments

8/27/13 Lozz <3 Fantastic, loved it!!! 5 stars
1/31/11 cambellar a movie worth watching..and touchy 5 stars
6/10/09 matt slightly numbing, but well made with a great script. 4 stars
10/03/08 R.W. Welch Realistic and well acted. Has an authentic air to it. 4 stars
9/04/08 Rachel A thought provoking action film. Underrated. 4 stars
6/18/08 mr.mike Not bad , despite unconvincing moments and some overly Bondian action scenes. 4 stars
4/02/08 dii this movie makes me crying when I watch it in second time caused Archer's sacrifice. 3 stars
3/22/08 Matt the best movie, effectively portrayed the conflict in africa, intense and captivating 5 stars
1/24/08 Double M Too much hollywood to be really powerful. Leo & Djimon barely elevate it to "Worth A Look". 4 stars
10/17/07 Beau Its Worth a look, great photography and acting! leo is great 4 stars
10/08/07 widhi wwardhana grat movie and great acting of Leo and Djimon. 5 stars
9/11/07 Grayfoxx Awesome movie. Definitely worth watching. 5 stars
7/17/07 Matt Leo's awful accent aside, this is thought provoking especially for those of us in Africa. 3 stars
7/03/07 Ingrid This was a very bad movie 1 stars
7/02/07 Grefg Blood crap....bad acting, lame dialog, shitty screenplay, buggy script 1 stars
6/24/07 dt ok, if a bit predictable 3 stars
6/21/07 Rayven omg leo was incredible as he was in departed, an important film 5 stars
6/15/07 Nikita This film really opened my eyes up to the life and torture in Sierra Leone. 5 stars
6/05/07 Dicapri God A quality piece of filmmaking, LD cracking as usual 4 stars
5/01/07 Lynn Great movie - However, Dicaprio's Aussie accent really sucks 4 stars
4/28/07 Indrid Cold Doesn't really make any mistakes, but ends up not making much of an impact. 4 stars
4/22/07 Monday Morning LDiC gets better with every film he does. Excellent movie ths, too. 5 stars
4/16/07 Matt Awesome. Great acting. THe best movie I've seen in a while 5 stars
4/03/07 fools&#9835;gold The ending is a big wet dream (I'm not sure if that's a complement or not). 4 stars
4/02/07 ad great acting, nice story 5 stars
3/27/07 james floyd one of best movies I've seen in a long time 5 stars
3/21/07 action movie fan good gun battles, but too long,ponderous and hard to follow 3 stars
3/16/07 Donny M More boring than a drive to grandmas 1 stars
2/19/07 Luji Excellent movie, Leo more convincing than ever before... turned me off diamonds for sure! 5 stars
2/07/07 arjee labajo its a good movie.., its interesting movie 5 stars
1/31/07 MP Bartley Hectoring, but powerful. DiCaprio is slick with the accent, but Hounsou is tremendous. 4 stars
1/27/07 Greats story, great acting 5 stars
1/15/07 plim thought-provoking 5 stars
1/14/07 lee this is the most brilliant acting/screenplay/purpose to any movie I have ever seen. Period. 5 stars
1/04/07 Luisa Definitely worth seeing, Djimon is a great actor 4 stars
1/03/07 Jess Must-See FIlm! I will never buy a diamond again. 5 stars
12/27/06 Bert Kaplan Bloody, yes. A diamond, not even close. 2 stars
12/22/06 Quigley Not as entertaining as made out to be; Dicaprio excellent but he said "huh?" like 500 times 3 stars
12/17/06 qdog one of the best movies of the year 5 stars
12/12/06 The Harkman An eye opener. I appareciated it. 5 stars
12/12/06 Tiffany hmm Leo was cute. And he had a cool voice. movie was ok. 4 stars
12/11/06 Wendy Straw worth seeing 3 stars
12/09/06 SeanS One of the year's worst. The screenplay is simply appalling. 1 stars
12/08/06 Annadamma Painfully obvious beyond reason- of course this stuff happening is awful... DUH. 1 stars
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  08-Dec-2006 (R)
  DVD: 20-Mar-2007



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