Blood Diamond

Year: 2006
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Edward Zwick
Producer: Edward Zwick
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Honsou, Jennifer Connelly, Arnold Vosloo, Jimi Mistry, Michael Sheen
Leonardo DiCarpio was making the leap from plain old pretty boy A lister to Important Actor around this time. He'd been wowing audiences and critics alike in The Aviator and The Departed, and he now had the world in the palm of his hand.

Edward Zwick's half social comment, half action thriller made good use of him and the support cast. He convincingly plays South African mercenary and gun-runner Archer who becomes embroiled in the chase for a massive diamond in war-torn Sierra Leone with a displaced villager (African go-to guy Honsou) and plucky American reporter (Connelly).

There's plenty of breathtaking action and thrills but it's all set in the real world of the blood diamond trade, where most of the world's diamonds emerge from the rebel battlefields of Africa. It gives Zwick and the script plenty of time to trade in on some of the most recognisable aspects of that world - child soldiers, thugs clearing and murdering helpless villages of farmers, a network of double crosses blanketing the country, the Sierra Leone rebellion in which the cutting off of hands was a grisly hallmark.

But it's a morality tale as Archer teams up with Solomon (Honsou) to recover the find that will set him up for life, but realises the human cost and sends Solomon on a path to set things right.

It's photogenic at the same time as dramatic, escapist action served up with grimy reality, and as much a 'message' movie as a thriller. Zwick was well qualified to helm such a project, employing the same visual and location style as he did in the decidedly more cack-handed The Last Samurai.

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