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(Review originally written at 4 February 2007)

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The problem with "Blood Diamond" is that it tries to tell an important and powerful story and even tries to make a statement but it does this too much in an Hollywood kind of way, with over-the-top and far from believable dramatic plot lines, of course a misplaced love-story, lots of action and a happy Hollywood ending. Had the movie been done more in a "Syriana", so to speak, kind of style, the movie without doubt would had been better, more powerful and definitely more realistic. No doubt that the movie would then had been one of the year's best.

I must admit that I have a weak spot for Edward Zwick movies. His movie are always over-the-top with its dramatic moments and action (for instance; "Glory", "The Last Samurai") but it's always done in such a beautiful and effective way that you immediately forgive him. This unfortunately really wasn't the case with "Blood Diamond".

"Blood Diamond" is a movie about a true and also still relevant subject about the lust for diamonds (mainly from the West) and the power struggles and fighting it takes with them over the diamonds in African countries, in this case Sierra Leone. The common African person is being the victim of it all and they're actually being enslaved to work in diamond fields and mines or to join the rebel, fighting the government over control of the diamond business. This is already a good, powerful and effective premise on its own, so it really is to bad that the movie feels the need to put in sentimental, personal plot lines and lots of action sequences, while it should had focused more on the bigger picture of it all.

The movie also doesn't always flow well. I mean, it's day and night and day again, sometimes in a matter of seconds. It's something that too often is that case with movies that run over 2 hours long.

Leonardo DiCaprio is a good main lead for this movie and he adds another good role to his impressive list. He especially did a very good job with the accent. Djimon Hounsou is also good in his role, but I still think that he should stop playing roles like this. Ever since his "Amistad" he's been typecast over and over again, with this movie forming no exception to that. He's a great actor that truly should concentrate more on more different serious, carrying roles. The movie also features Jennifer Connelly, Arnold Vosloo and Michael Sheen, among others, in good roles.

The movie tries to be emotional and even shock, by showing some of the cruelties that are going on and also with some sequences involving child-soldiers. Problem is that the movie tries to be too realistic with it all, while the movie its approach and style really don't make this a realistic or powerful movie to watch. It also causes the more serious and sentimental sequences to not work out halve as powerful or confronting as intended. The movie features also far too many action sequences to take the movie really as a serious one but rather as an entertaining typical Hollywood movie, with dramatic elements in it.

At the end the movie even makes a statement by literally telling us (us being the Western World) not to buy conflict diamonds. This is not the way to give us this message. If you really wanted to make a statement, you should had made the movie more effective and powerful Mr. Zwick. That way the images and story would already speak enough for itself and you wouldn't had even needed this kind of text at the end, right before the credits.

The movie is definitely well made in terms of its style and the way the sequences are build up and constructed. The movie still shows that Edward Zwick is a great director, who just should had chosen a different approach with its story.

But you just can't rate the movie negative. It's too professionally made and looking for that. Especially the action sequences know to impress. It's good looking all, with some good camera-work and good looking landscapes and environment. It definitely helps the movie that it was shot mostly on location in Africa.

A well made, good looking movie but with a message that due to the way of film-making and storytelling just doesn't come across. A missed opportunity.

6/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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