Blood Diamond (2006)
Camouflaged as an idealistic message movie, this semi-exploitive action film by Edward Zwick is largely in the same business as most of the people it depicts. One can of course make an argument that this at least makes it free of hypocrisy, which would be an amusing piece of irony, but the fact of the matter is that what stops Blood Diamond from really being a fine movie, is Zwick's inclination to always wanting to go that extra mile; satisfying the genre conventions at the expense of realism.
The latest in the series of films depicting riveting situations in central-African countries, Blood Diamond is an at times gripping and constantly brutal account of the days of civil war in the mid-90s Sierra Leone, and the illegal diamond industry that revelled in its wake. The brutality and violence is contrasted against a very charming and romanticized view of Africa for which Zwick is to be honoured. His two main puppets in this respect, however, are to an equal extent responsible. Djimon Hounsou's performance is powerful (if somewhat forced, bordering on overacting in some important passages), whereas Leonardo DiCaprio fortifies his position as the leading actor of his generation. His performance here reminds me of Marlon Brando in his prime - from the complete delve into character, to the expression, to that showy accent of his. With recent year's feats, DiCaprio looks to finally have found his adult persona. Here he steals every scene he's in and elevates the film's impact.
Unfortunately, Zwick returns to old sins. Until the final thirty minutes, there's not much wrong with Blood Diamond, except for its somewhat inconsiderate time consumption. The film has many thought-provoking depictions and keeps you interested. However, the ending is all about simple solutions and cheap sentimentality that waste the film's integrity. Like Jennifer Connelly's poorly written character, Blood Diamond has so much flashy idealism and transparent goodness, that not even a James Newton Howard score seems out of place. But please don't let that undermine DiCaprio's bravura performance.