Directed by Edward Zwick.
Written by Charles Leavitt.
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly and
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 12/14/06
When it comes to the man that directed
"Glory", "Courage Under Fire" and
Samurai", I had to see "Blood Diamond" because the man normally
pays such a good amount of attention to detail and historical
accuracy. Being set in Africa only got me more intrigued; the
violence in 1999 Sierra Leone diamond trading and gang vs.
government warfare makes for an interesting backdrop.
African diamond smuggler Danny Archer
(Leonardo DiCaprio, surprisingly good with his white-African
stylings) is running rocks for some high-end shady characters in
London when he gets picked up in Liberia when the film opens.
After being sent to a local jail, he gets bailed out by his shady
associates but meets someone while in the slammer: Solomon
Vandy (Djimon Hounsou), a poor worker in Sierra Leone who was
abducted by rebels and forced into diamond-sifting labor in the
outdoor mines of his country. When the mine he was working in
is hit by military soldiers and his captors arrested, everyone is
thrown into the same jail as Archer...where it is learned that Vandy
may have knowledge of a 100-carat "blood diamond", which might be
the big-money item that will allow Archer to sell out and retire
from his dangerous lifestyle. Archer helps bail Vandy out so
that the two can accomplish their goals through each other: Archer
can help Vandy find his family, and Vandy can help Archer find the
big rock. With the help of a reporter (Jennifer Connelly), the
adventurous threesome find trouble all over the continent.
Filmed mainly in South Africa, Mozambique,
Sierra Leone and the UK, "Blood Diamond" looks like an extravagant
production, although if you've seen Zwick's other films (even in his
New York City doomsday scenario "The Siege"), all of his films feel
like epics and this one is no exception. It's a wild ride, but
one that resonates because of the undercurrent of the Vandy
backstory--after he is separated from his family, his oldest son (Kagiso
Kuypers) is picked up and trained as a child soldier, one who
becomes the kind of soulless AK-47 killing machine that you just
KNOW is being raised somewhere else in a war-torn country right now.
Can you imagine drinking, smoking, watching porn and killing
innocent civilians all by the time you are 12? If you can,
you've got problems, but for me, I got into the story real
quick-like and the mix of action/adventure and storytelling (for at
least the Vandy portion of the tale) was fantastic.
The bits with Archer and a possible
relationship with the reporter (both personal and professional, as
the reporter needs leads on a story around the dirty diamond
business) aren't as well done; it doesn't feel fresh and the
chemistry between DiCaprio and Connelly doesn't have much of a
chance to develop, because it feels fake AND because their
characters spend a lot of time getting shot at. (Hard to flirt
with someone when RPGs are flying down the street towards your
location.) This doesn't consume a lot of the film's run time
but it's enough to still make you occasionally wish those scenes
would move a little quicker.
Otherwise, I thought "Blood Diamond" was
solid, which is a bit of a surprise for me, because despite a strong
trailer I wasn't that fired up to see this...so, I'm happy to be
surprised by this one. In what feels like one of the slowest
December movie periods ever, make a date with this one if you like
your movies a little bloody.
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard