Blood Diamond
I prefer Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.

Theatrical Release Date: 12/08/2006
Director: Edward Zwick
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly

One of my favorite fake commercials came from the TV show, “Family Guy.”

It was a parody of those diamond commercials where people were slipping the expensive stone onto shadow fingers but instead of the normal tagline, this one read: “Diamonds. She’ll pretty much have to.”

Sadly, “Blood Diamond” isn’t a comedy. However, its spotlight on conflict diamonds created much a stir amongst diamond conglomerates and Oscar voters alike (many of whom show up to the awards show in millions of dollars in diamonds).

The film dealt with the conflict diamond trade and attempted to show all levels of the process. From forced labor to smugglers to corrupt officials to the diamond companies, director Edward Zwick manages to pack all of it into this film with an expert hand.

To bring this tale to life, he leaned upon Djimon Hounsou to be the face of the African continent. His family is torn apart by the civil war in Sierra Leone and his discovery and hiding of a large diamond makes him a player amid the greedy mob that will stop at nothing to make themselves richer and more powerful.

Like so many of his other performances, Hounsou delivers both power and grace. His goal in the film is to reunite his family and it is only the lure of the diamond he found that will allow him to do that.

That should have been the full focus of the film. However, there is another storyline that gets in the way.

First, let me acknowledge that DiCraprio did a good job in this film, exceeding his role in “The Departed” by a mile. His character is well developed and goes through a complete arc during the film. Even his accent, while it seemed rather weak and went in and out at times, was believable enough and I can see he and his dialect coach spent time trying to get it right.

Completing the troika is Jennifer Connelly, who plays a journalist looking to do a story about the conflict diamond trade and she becomes entangled with Leo and Hounsou on their quest.

It is these two characters where my problem with the film lies. As you may have already guessed, Leo and Connelly begin to develop a bond, a closeness, a desire to get freaky deeky, if you will. Personally, I find that their “relationship” is offensive to the story as a whole and an unnecessary distraction to the central storyline.

Oooh, two beautiful people meet in a bar … their lives will intersect … it’s like fate! It’s crap.

The film should have stuck to the important issues at hand; hundreds of thousands of people dead, millions left homeless and in refugee camps, civil war and unrest – all for money and capitalism.

I think that’s a bit more important than whether Leo and Connelly are soul mates, don’t you? The film would have been better served using a male actor for Connelly, removing the sexual tension and focusing on the interesting aspect of their relationshop; the journalist using a source for a story who is using another man (Hounsou) for a chance at wealth.

Aside from that needless story element, “Blood Diamond” is an excellent film. The production value is top notch, the acting overall is quite good and Zwick’s direction allowed for many different story elements to be presented without slowing down the pace of the film too much.

I’m giving “Blood Diamond” a very strong 3 out of 5. It would have been a notch higher if the film had stuck to the issue of conflict diamonds and how it is tearing apart whole countries in Africa. However, the romantic subplot and the anticlimactic epilogue of an ending kept it down in my opinion.

Still, if you find any of the issues surrounding the conflict diamond trade interesting, this is definitely worthy of a rental and not a waste of your time. I recommend it to all of my guy friends who aren’t already engaged or married … maybe it’ll save you a few bucks if the little lady all of a sudden prefers a different gem to adorn her ring finger.