Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Film Review: Blood Diamond (2006)

As with everything popular, i approached this film with cautions. This film was relatively popular, that even some of the casual viewer started to notice Leonardo DiCaprio's acting capability. Dude, where were you when Gangs of New York hit the silver screen? I hadn't read any single negative reviews from the casual viewers (ie, those who went to theatres with their 'love' ones, mostly). Therefore, my cautious manner in approaching this film.

Edward Zwick was no stranger to direct epic films, his last film was The Last Samurai which earned a nod to Ken Watanabe in Oscar. This film however, recognized two of the cast to get nominated. Leo and Djimon Hounsou, both of whose pictures i used in the banner. The film was, in my opinion, rather overlong. But my, that ending alone was heart-breaking, and no doubt that you teenage girls would love Leo as a man not a boyish cute-face anymore after this film.

Danny Archer (DiCaprio) was a soldier of fortune, smuggling illegal diamond in and out of conflict area around Africa. His last smuggling effort was failed of course, and his life was now on the line. Solomon Vandy (Hounsou) was a regular fisherman who loved his family beyond anything. During the first scenes of the film, he got separated from his family during the rebel's raid in Sierra Leone. It was brutal, and terrifying scenes that made you at least very thankful to live in Indonesia. Anyway, Solo was sent to the diamond-mining site under the rebel's pointing gun in order to finance their movement against the government. There, he found 100-karat pink diamond and buried it. To make things short, Danny and Solo met, Danny wants Solo's diamond to save his life, and Solo only wanted to see his family again. With the help from Maddy (Jennifer Connelly), a dedicated journalist willing to uncover the truth behind illegal diamond smuggling, Danny and Solo run amok among the raging civil war.

The plot above was generally an over-simplification. During the length of the film, the mood swings from dense action sequence to political babble narative that required little more attention. But in general, the film wasn't felt that long despite its length. Just probably because i dont like Jennifer Connelly that i felt the film was going slower whenever she was on screen.

There were three key characters in this film. Danny, Solo, and Maddy. Two of these were well-developed with Danny who has the most complete arc. It's a solid performance from Leo. Danny never falter from his "the diamond is mine!" thankfully, but right at the end, we understand on how his decisions were made. Damn, that ending scene. Solo, however, only passionate to find his family. Most, if not all, step on the gas that this film has, were largely to Solo's needs and passions. Maddy however, has never stepped up more than a character needed to mention in plot. She was almost entirely forgettable, especially during the final acts, which is alright with me.

All in all, Blood Diamond wouldn't be my choice to be one of the best film in 2006. It's too mixed between mood-drenching drama and hard-boiled actions. But, it was a much entertaining film, that is if you could stand watching the uncompromising way Zwick depicted the conflict in Sierra Leone (mass slaughter, child soldier, open tortures), and nice well-developed characters to study.. er... did i say study? Nevermind.

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