Saturday, December 09, 2006

film - Blood Diamond


A fisherman, Solomon Vandy, is captured as his village is massacred by the machette and machine gun-toting rebels in the coastal African nation of Sierra Leone. The boys who survive either gets their hands cut off or are taken away to become brainwashed as child soldiers.

While digging at a rebel-controlled diamond field, Vandy finds an egg-sized diamond and tries to hide it. The rebel boss catches him in the act but before the diamond can be seized, the government soldiers stage a surprise attack. In jail the fisherman is accused of hiding the giant diamond by the rebel boss and this catches the ear of diamond smuggler Danny Archer, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who was also recently jailed.

The goals of the men are different but are centered around the diamond. Archer wants to be the one to broker the sale on behalf of Vandy so that he can escape Africa for good. Vandy wants help from Leo and his contacts to get his wife and kids reunited with him. The two agree to go on a cross-country trek across the stunningly beautiful wilderness patrolled by the vicious rebels and their adolescent trigger-happy militia. Vandy's trek has a more important purpose, though. He's adamant that he will find his child-soldier son and whisk him away from the rebels... something easier said that done.

At times Blood Diamond lurches along from one machine gun massacre to another. The slow parts are a bit too slow. I can't recall seeing as many people mowed down by machine gun fire since Blackhawk Down. There's an overabundance of bloody violence in the film.

The film points out that conflict diamonds account for about 15% of the diamond trade and that it's the ordinary consumers who create the demand for these stones, without regard for how they were mined. Conflict diamond profits are used to buy arms that end up slaughtering many Africans each year.

A movie like this wouldn't be made unless there was some way of implicating the upper echelon of the diamond industry, the wealthy and influential companies who regulate the supply and price of diamonds. Jennifer Connelly portrays a journalist who is fed up with shallow stories and seeks a blockbuster expose with hard evidence showing that the diamond industry gladly embraces blood or conflict diamonds. She uses her media credentials to transport Archer and Vandy around to find most of Vandy's family.

Blood Diamond featuress some great acting by Djimon Hounsou as the fisherman. He also appeared in Gladiator and In America. DiCaprio appears to give it his best shot but there's something not entirely convincing about him being a former soldier turned diamond smuggler. He just doesn't look seasoned enough. Like Brad Pitt, he's one of Hollywood's choices to carry a film, but has yet to really earn such confidence with his acting skills.

At almost 2 hours and 20 minutes, the film is too long, and I couldn't help but notice people checking their watches.

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