It’s not rare to see Hollywood films dive deep into subject matter that is deeply messed up, brutally real, and an actual problem in the real world. War is the likeliest subject that Hollywood will tackle since it can be the easiest to profit off of. You can create a war film, add a ton of spectacle and have every seat filled in the theater. However, sometimes, when you Hollywoodize a film that is meant to tackle a very real issue, it can become a problem. That is perhaps the biggest blunder that the creators of Blood Diamond ended up making.
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The Movie Review
Solomon, a fisherman, is cruelly separated from his family by rebels who forced him to work in the brutal diamond mines. These diamonds are used to finance the rebels’ war against the Sierra Leone government. Meanwhile, Danny Archer, a former mercenary, had shifted his career to smuggling diamonds from the conflict zone to Liberia, with the intention of selling them legally.
Maddy Bowen, a journalist with a strong sense of justice, arrived in the area to uncover the illegal diamond trade and the suffering it caused. When Solomon stumbled upon a sizeable diamond, he hid it, drawing Danny and Maddy into his dangerous world and setting them off on a perilous journey into the heart of the illicit diamond trade.
Approaching this film was a conundrum for me, as it is unquestionably a message movie about a current issue. On the one hand, it is striving to ensure that we comprehend the staggering suffering and loss that is entailed in and enabled by this diamond trade, while on the other hand, it was required to deliver a captivating movie that appeals to the masses. The fusion of these two goals is not always successful, but it does an acceptable job, at least.
Although I found Blood Diamond to be enjoyable, I don’t believe it qualifies as a remarkable piece of cinema. It’s a good movie, sure, but it’s also an entirely conventional, mainstream Hollywood production.
However, the film’s major shortcoming is perhaps embedded in this very approach. Blood Diamond appears to rely on Hollywood tropes and formulas in order to effectively convey its message to a broad audience.
Consequently, we are presented with a cast of A-listers, a romantic subplot, an excessively sentimental ending, and an abundance of action. When coupled with the film’s heavy-handed themes, this approach becomes too overwhelming. I would describe this film as confusing. Not because I didn’t understand the plot, but because I was uncertain about its purpose and direction.
The standout feature of Blood Diamond is undeniably Leonardo DiCaprio’s (Titanic, The Man in the Iron Mask, The Aviator, Shutter Island, Inception, Django Unchained, The Great Gatsby, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Revenant, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Don’t Look Up), performance, which elevates the film beyond its standard Hollywood script and transforms it into a memorable experience.
DiCaprio’s character is portrayed with terrific realism, and this greatly enhances the film. Additionally, Djimon Hounsou delivers a wonderful performance, and the chemistry between the two actors is palpable in their shared scenes. Hounsou does a great job of conveying the full spectrum of emotions experienced by his character throughout the film.
Similarly, Jennifer Connelly (Hulk, Noah, Alita: Battle Angel, Top Gun: Maverick) does a commendable job in her portrayal of the idealistic journalist who wants to make a difference. Connelly manages to infuse her performance with a certain journalistic integrity that isn’t seen very often.
Blood Diamond is masterfully produced though, it boasts impressive action sequences and stunning cinematography by the talented Eduardo Serra. The movie is visually striking, with excellent camera work that captures the breathtaking landscapes and environments of Africa, where it was mostly shot on location.
The cinematography is undoubtedly one of the standout features of the film, with not a single error to be found, save for a few moments where the camerawork falls short and the color palette lacks vibrancy.
While the soundtrack for Blood Diamond is certainly competent and technically proficient, it does not have a lot of emotional power. The music primarily serves as a functional background to the film’s action sequences, rather than eliciting an emotional response from the audience.
This is partly due to the fact that the score relies heavily on African percussion and traditional instruments, which are used to evoke a sense of place and culture. While this is effective in terms of establishing a sense of location, it does not necessarily create an emotional connection with the characters or the story.
After watching Blood Diamond, I find myself with a mixed bag of emotions. On one hand, the film boasts a compelling narrative that delves into the dark underbelly of the diamond trade. On the other, the heavy-handed use of Hollywood formulas, a cheesy romantic subplot, and an over-the-top action-packed climax, feel out of place in a film that attempts to tackle such a serious issue.
Blood Diamond is a film that attempts to balance entertainment and social commentary, but ultimately falls short in doing so.
- The film has a decent script with a dramatic and compelling story that keeps the audience engaged
- The performances of the actors, particularly Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou, are outstanding
- The cinematography shot mostly on location in Africa is visually stunning and harrowing
- The action sequences are well-executed, adding to the excitement of the film
- Blood Diamond sheds light on the devastating effects of the illegal diamond trade in Africa
- The film's heavy-handed use of Hollywood formulas can detract from the seriousness of the subject matter
- The soundtrack, composed by James Newton Howard, lacks emotional power
- At times, the film's pacing can feel uneven
- There are some cinematography errors in the film, where the shots look bland and the color palette is weak
- Blood Diamond tries to balance the need to entertain and educate, but at times the two goals feel at odds with each other