In 2003 Edward Zwick directed one of my favourite films of that year, The Last Samurai. Zwick then disappeared from the big screen but now returns almost four years later with Blood Diamond.
Set in 1990s Sierra Leone at the time of civil war, Blood Diamond tells the story of Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio), an ex-mercenary turned diamond smuggler, born in Zimbabwe, and a poor fisherman, Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) who set out on a quest where Archer needs to locate a rare pink diamond that Solomon has hidden. At the same time Solomon desperately searches for his kidnapped son.
There are already some brilliant films out there based on past events in Africa: The Constant Gardener, Hotel Rwanda, The Last King Of Scotland, to name a few. So Blood Diamond certainly has some tough competition but it more than lives up to its fellow competitors.
Despite the film's obvious Hollywood approach to a real-life subject there is still a lot of genuine emotion and powerful performances to counter the Hollywood gloss. The film manages to be fun yet serious, and entertaining yet emotional.
Fresh off a career best turn in The Departed, DiCaprio shines in his role. In particular he absolutely nails his South African accent; it must have required a lot of hard work.
Djimon Hounsou is more than convincing as the struggling father as he desperately tries to reunite his family. It is a welcome return to form for the actor after a string of average pictures. Jennifer Connelly is an actress I like a lot; she was exceptional in Hulk and Dark Water despite those not being particularly great films. Here she is very good playing perfectly off the lead men.
The action sequences are very well handled by Zwick, coming across as very realistic and dramatic. The film has quite an adventurous feel to it as well, thanks to excellent pacing and direction.
Strong performances combined with solid storytelling and an action-packed plot make Blood Diamond a highly entertaining, engaging must-see movie.