It takes balls to make a film such as this. Scratch that — it takes some serious bravado to make a film about Africa that is as unabashed as Edward Zwick’s Blood Diamond. Difficult to watch, daring and unrelenting, Zwick’s film is a winner through and through.
The film takes place in the late 1990’s during the height of the diamond trade conflict. Sierra Leone is a country torn by civil war and genocide all due to the world’s need to have the luxuries of life at the slimmest price. Djimon Hounsou plays Solomon Vandy, a simple fisherman whose village is ransacked by rebels who separate him from his family and force him to work in the mines. There he finds a precious diamond, and just before the rebel diamond field is taken by the government, Vandy buries the diamond for later. While he is in prison as a result of the government’s raid, he meets Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio), a diamond smuggler who insists that he can help Vandy sell the diamond and find his family.
The two set off through the war-ravaged countryside, dodging both government and rebel forces as well as a nosy New York reporter (Jennifer Connelly) who takes a bit of a liking to Archer. The action is fast paced and often difficult to watch. Director Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai), does nothing to hide the audience from the true face of the violence in Africa, not shying away for a moment from showing kids with AK-47s shooting up towns of women and children. At first the scenes involving young boys thrown into the militia life may seem like overkill or even a bit of exploitation, but Zwick only shows how the violence really happens – and it may make the average American a bit sick to the stomach.