Edward Zwick’s (Glory, The Last Samurai) Blood Diamond is a refreshing achievement in the political action genre. While Zwick has an obvious agenda that may turn some off, the complexity of the film’s characters and expert juxtaposition of the beautiful scenery of South Africa with the horrific violence aroused by “bling bling” put Diamond in the ranks of one of the best films of 2006.
We may be tempted to trust DiCaprio outright because of his friendly off-screen persona and his turn as a cutesy stowaway on a doomed ocean-liner. Truth is, it’s hard to sympathize with DiCaprio’s Danny Archer (DiCaprio’s smartest choice as a mature actor, and one of his best performances), or any of the multi-motivated characters for that matter (sans Djimon Hounsou’s Solomon, whose drive runs at a standstill). This complexity is what puts Blood Diamond a cut above the rest of the blood-fueled social issue films being released.
But Zwick makes a few mistakes, like when he allows his characters to be rescued by coincidence and luck far too often, letting the artificial movie-side of Diamond show when we’re immersed in the reality. Zwick makes the same mistake with the addition of a romance angle between Archer and Maddy Bowen (Connelly) that leaves a shady green tint.
But whatever flaws Blood Diamond may have hardly affect the overall clarity. Zwick’s epic Blood Diamond is likely to be pinned as “propaganda” by many. Don’t be mistaken, this is a film to be seen—not for its agenda, but for the truths it exposes. If anything, you’ll have more reason to delay buying your girlfriend an engagement ring.
Commentary by director Edward Zwick: The well-informed and enthusiastic Zwick keeps our interest for the film’s duration, with stories of production and further information on the conflicts in 1999 Sierra Leone.
Blood on the Stone (50:15): An in-depth documentary following a diamond “from the ground to the store.” A great companion piece to the feature film.
Becoming Archer: Profiling Leonardo DiCaprio (8:33): Mixed with crew insights and training footage of Leo, DiCaprio offers analysis of his Danny Archer. Worth a look, but contains major spoilers.
Journalists on the Front Line (5:15): Jennifer Connelly praises the female journalists who put their lives on the line for the sake of their profession. More filler than depth.
Inside the Siege of Freetown (10:32): This is a piece on the preparation and filming of one of the more heartpounding moments of the film. With BTS footage and comments from director Zwick and others, we get a great sense of the passion and vision put into not just this sequence, but the whole film.