Djimon Hounsou in Blood Diamond (2006)

A True Gem

Having once been a mercenary, Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) has turned to diamond smuggling which is how he ends up in a crowded cell near Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou), a fisherman who was forced to work in the mines by the guerrillas using the diamonds they find to fund their war. When Archer hears a rebel claim he saw Vandy with a large pink diamond he decides to help him track down his family as well as his son who has been taken by the rebels to be trained as a child soldier. Of course Danny is not interested in whether Vandy finds his family but more interested in finding the diamond which Vandy buried. They find themselves accompanied by Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly) an American journalist who sniffs a story won she meets Danny. But whilst for Vandy his mission becomes saving his son before he is brainwashed by the rebels for Danny it is getting the diamond before other interested parties also find it.

"Blood Diamond" is a big movie in so many senses starting with the story which gives us a glimpse into the civil unrest in Sierra Leone where men have their hands chopped off by guerrillas to prevent them voting, others are made to pan for diamonds whilst young boys are brain washed into being rebel soldiers, forced to kill. At the same time we get a glimpse at the blood diamond industry as people will risk their lives not only to smuggle them out of the country but in some cases to use them to escape the hell they are in. On top of that we also have a glimpse at journalism in a troubled country and how some can be cold to the plight of others whilst some cannot turn a blind eye to it.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly in Blood Diamond (2006)

And what is genuinely amazing is that director Edward Zwick manages to bring all the aspects of the story together in a way which is entertaining but easy to follow for the layman who probably doesn't take a huge interest in politics or what goes on in other countries. He also manages to tell the story and deliver the visuals, using the impressive back drops to stun you with this world which is so beautiful yet torn to shreds not just by war but those who re profiteering off of it. It is a long time since a movie which in truth is alien territory to me made me feel so connected.

Of course part of that is down to the writing, especially of the characters but also the acting. Now of course the Oscars came around and everyone said that DiCaprio should win one for his lead performance in "Blood Diamond" but this movie shows why he didn't for so long. The reason why is that whilst DiCaprio's performance as Archer is very good so are every one elses in this movie and it is a case that DiCaprio was in a movie which because of everything was a cut above the norm. As such Djimon Hounsou and Jennifer Connelly deliver equally as good performances as DiCaprio's and the trio combined help to bring this story to life.

What this all boils down to is that "Blood Diamond" is a very good movie, easily a cut above the norm and it is a case that all parts of it work. And that isn't just for those already aware of the background to the story because this is one of those movies which tells a story of a real situation but for the masses.