"Blood Diamond" is a tale of two men fueled by two completely different things in life. One by wealth and avoidance...the other by family and a need for action. Set in Sierra Leone during civil war, we follow a fisherman Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) who has been torn away from his family by the RUF rebels to work in the diamond fields. The rebels, led by vindictive Captain Poison (David Harewood), mine diamonds to fund their war effort, buying or trading them for automatic weapons to use against the government troops. After finding an extremely large and rare pink diamond, Solomon is taken into custody by the government and thrown in jail. While in prison, a cynical diamond smuggler Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) overhears of Solomon's findings and immediately takes an interest. Archer approaches Solomon with a deal that he can't refuse...he will help him find his family in exchange for the diamond. To do so, he needs help. He turns to Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), an American journalist investigating the illegal diamond trade; Archer reluctantly agrees to expose the diamond company buying up the conflict diamonds in return for her help. With Maddy's connections, Solomon learns his wife and young children are in a refugee camp but his son Dia was captured by the rebels, brainwashed into a child solider. Solomon, Archer, and Maddy flee the war-torn city streets, through the ravaged countryside, all the way to the diamond fields where Solomon has hidden the stone...and where his confused young son fights against them. Solomon and Archer must learn to help each other in order to survive and outsmart the rebels.
"Blood Diamond" is a great film, but what really sets it apart is the acting. DiCaprio is the only character that I am a little iffy about. His acting is fantastic, but I just couldn't let the accent go to rest. It just doesn't seem to fit in with his character (sounds more European than African) and honestly made me really struggle to believe in who he is supposed to be. I was too interested in listening to his accent to really pay attention to his acting. Hands down, Hounsou is the driving force behind "Blood Diamond." He takes his character of Solomon Vandy and puts his entire heart and soul into it. I never for once doubted that he was taken away from his family and that he was in complete and utter despair over the situation. I couldn't help being drawn into his character and found myself gasping multiple times...hoping that something awful wasn't about to happen.
"Blood Diamond" is an intense flick that rarely leaves you waiting for something to happen. Although running a little long at 138 minutes, "Blood Diamond" will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. With incredible action scenes we definitely have enough entertainment to keep us going, but "Blood Diamond" is not just an action flick. It is a compelling story of a father trying to reunite his family and about a smuggler attempting to resolve his crimes.
Presented in 1080p VC-1 video, "Blood Diamond" truly wants to be a fantastic transfer...there are definitely times of incredible detail, colors and black tones. For example, there is a scene where Archer and Solomon are running through the streets trying to get away from the rebels overtaking the city. This scene is fantastic...we see each bullet hit and watch explosions that make you feel like you are right in the thick of things. Unfortunately, all of this is only once and a while. "Blood Diamond" suffers from a very inconsistent video transfer that is spotty throughout. Those few beautiful scenes are followed by scenes filled with grain, extremely high contrast, and end up just mediocre. Overall, "Blood Diamond" tries to hard to be an incredible transfer but unfortunately just gets an okay video transfer.
Here we get a 5.1 PCM track and a 5.1 Dolby Digital Track. Where "Blood Diamond" struggles in its video, it sure shines with its audio track. Wow, is all I can say! The surrounds are filled with goodness as each scene brings us closer to the rebel fighting, and bullets are raging through all the surrounds. There are screams, cars, explosions, bullets...you name it...in the background throughout the film. With great use of lows and a really nice soundtrack, "Blood Diamond" is extremely hard to say anything bad about. My only complaint is that at times, the dialogue seemed a little low. Maybe it was meant to be that way, but everything else was so powerful and so incredible that I sometimes lost the dialogue a little.
Commentary by Director Edward Zwick: This is a fantastic commentary track. Edward Zwick loves this film and you can tell. He highlights everything important to him in the film, from production, characters, locations, and story. Very upbeat and a wonderful listen.
Blood on the Stone: An African journalist, Sorious Samura, takes us through the entire process of exporting diamonds. Broken into smaller sections about trading, digging, dying, and blood in N.Y. This really has nothing to do with "Blood Diamond" but does tell us a lot of information that relates in everyway with what "Blood Diamond" was trying to tell us. This documentary is very touching as Sorious goes through the streets and even talks to 2 teens who had been brainwashed into being RUF child soliders. This is a very informative feature that is definitely worth a look.
Becoming Archer: One of the more bland features where we learn what the title says...Leo becomes Archer and the process behind it.
Journalists on the Front Line: Jennifer Connelly walks us through what it is like to be a woman journalist on the front lines.
Inside the Siege of Freetown: This is actually a really nice feature. Here Edward Zwick brings us through the process of this scene. Particularly, how important this scene is and how much care he had to put into it.
Focus Points: If you have ever seen those little pop-ups that come up during some films to give you some-fun-but-mostly-useless info...well that is what these are, but they don't pop-up. They are 22 features that are extremely short...you can watch one at a time or all at once. They run through individual scenes breaking them down, and different "focus points" throughout the film. Some of these are okay.
Music Video: "Shine on Em" by Nas.
"Blood Diamond" is a great film. Some might think that it is too pushy with the way it talks about war and diamonds, and how we should stop buying conflict diamonds to help save lives. Sure, it definitely has a message, but that by no means should stop you from watching this film. The cinematography is beautiful with incredible audio, and an okay video transfer. Even the extra features are nice with a fair amount of substance to them. "Blood Diamond" is an easy Recommend for me!