Customer Review

90 of 109 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Action and Powerful Performances Overshadow A Message That's All Too Familiar, December 8, 2006
As we reach the end of any calendar year, the major studios roll out their big guns--the films they think have the best chance of grabbing Oscar gold. These tend to be big budget affairs, with big stars, and often with serious or important themes. Well, "Blood Diamond" arrives with just such expectations. A well meaning and "important" film about exploitation and atrocities in Sierra Leone's diamond trade, "Blood Diamond" casts Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly, and Djimon Hounsou as the central characters in an exciting, and sometimes heartbreaking, look at the cost of commercialism in international trading.

Edward Zwick (who has courted Oscar before with "Glory" and "The Last Samurai") sets a very serious tone from the beginning--it seems clear that this film wants to parlay a message, to expose the injustices done in the name of Western greed. The setup covers extremely familiar territory and the message is blunt and obvious. No one, at this point, will deny that what is depicted here is harrowing--the problem is that it isn't particularly surprising or edifying. He's preaching to the choir. A lot of films have broken this ground before to astonishing affect, "Blood Diamond" as a message movie lacks a certain amount of originality and subtlety. That doesn't make it a bad movie, by any stretch, but I wasn't enlightened by the subject matter.

But the curious thing about "Blood Diamond," though, is just as I was tempted to dismiss it as a heavy-handed drama--I got wrapped up in it. Why? Well, it's a heck of an action picture and it boasts terrific performances. DiCaprio plays a rogue, ethically challenged, illegal diamond trader who is looking to make a big score. Hounsou, who has lost his son to the rebels, has hidden an invaluable diamond which he hopes to leverage to bring his family back together. And Connelly is an American journalist who wants to expose the corruption inherent in the trafficking of diamonds. All three are at the top of their game. Hounsou is absolutely riveting in an emotional powerhouse of a performance. DiCaprio acquits himself well with a Rhodesian accent and displays many layers to the morally questionable anti-hero.

The film is technically impressive--the cinematography and score earn high marks. But it's the brutal and compelling action sequences that will stick with you. There is much violence to be had in "Blood Diamond," much death and bloodshed. Our trio constantly find themselves on the wrong side of a gun fight or even worse--trapped between rebels warring with soldiers. Theses scenes are done with such precision, such excitement, and such realism--you almost forget that the film wants to teach you a lesson too. I almost wish that Zwick would have just trusted a simpler story and let us draw our own moral conclusions.

Ultimately, I really admired "Blood Diamond"--it has the power to excite you and move you. Far from a perfect film, it is eminently watchable. The tidy ending was a bit over-the-top for my taste, as well, but by then I'd really enjoyed the journey. A solid 3 1/2 star rating, I'm rounding up for the action set pieces. KGHarris, 12/06.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 2, 2007 8:22:50 PM PDT
T. Deliz says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jan 27, 2008 8:49:21 AM PST
J.G. says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jul 20, 2008 10:04:27 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 21, 2008 6:30:17 PM PDT
Oliver Towne says:
Well, it's nice to enjoy a journey if you don't personally have to have your hands chopped off, your children turned into murdering zombies, your wives and daughters raped and killed, and your country turned into a a hell on earth, but what's Hollywood to do? Machine gun us in the theater? "Technically impressive..." Golly, yes it is.

"Draw our own moral conclusions?" What does that mean? What other moral conclusion would you have the audience draw? Should the violence be less offensive, or the plot less extreme? What conclusion would we then draw, and what action would we take? (As if anyone ever takes any action after watching a movie except express temporary outrage and then go about their little lives.)

Hey, how about this radical thought? Quit buying diamonds, consumer puppets. They are utterly useless (and, yes, beautiful) vanity objects that only serve to enrich some and enslave others. ("Oh, but they truly prove his/my love for me/her! It's s-o-o-o romantic. You're just a killjoy, Oliver Towne, and probably a commie, too! Diamonds are a girl's best friend!")

Posted on Sep 30, 2012 5:25:12 PM PDT
"this film wants to parlay a message, to expose the injustices done in the name of Western greed"

I'm glad I read this review. I will not be watching this film now. I'm sick of being preached at by Hollywood. It takes about as much courage to "question the Western" world as bringing beer to a frat party. Why doesn't Hollywood grow some balls and make movies about Pol Pot, Chinese communism, North Korea. How about more movies like The Stoning of Soraya M. How about a team of Navy Seals rescuing a woman from sexual mutilation while taking out a terrorist? Nah, we keep on navel staring and "questioning" ...bleh.

I'm done with it. Platoon, Dances With Wolves, Avatar ...all of it. Oh and pretty much any Matt Damon movie with a "message" about as subtle as a frying pan to the forehead. It has grown trite and predictable.

Thanks for the review.
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