Opening 25 Jan 2007
“The future is in your hands” takes on a new meaning after viewing this action drama built around conflict diamonds smuggled out of Sierra Leone to finance the civil war of the 1990s. Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an ex-mercenary from Zimbabwe who trades diamonds for arms. Caught by government officials while smuggling diamonds across the border into Liberia, he lands in jail where he hears of Solomon Vandy’s (Djimon Hounsou) secret. Vandy is a Mende fisherman who wants his son, Dia (Kagiso Kuypers), to become a doctor when he grows up so he will not end up mending fishing nets as his father. The rebels attack his village and take Vandy away to work in the diamond fields which they control. While digging, he finds a pink diamond, the size of a bird egg, and hides it but not before one of the rebels sees him. A government raid sends them all to jail. It is here that Archer envisions his plan. He is determined to find the pink diamond which has the power to change lives, both his and Vandy’s. In the meantime, Dia is abducted by the rebels and turned into a child soldier of the Revolutionary United Front while the rest of Vandy’s family has become refugees. Vandy’s sole aim is to find his son and get his family together again. Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), an idealistic photojournalist as well as an “action junkie”, needs the information Archer is privy to in order to break the real story about the conflict diamond trade. She joins forces in their quest, albeit each has a different motive. This powerful film depicts the ugly realities of war zones and shows some violent scenes of killing and mutilation. But at the same time, it shows that people are people, and it is their actions that determine them to be either good or bad.
Director Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai) has done a superb job of creating an entertaining as well as informative film which tells a fascinating story and carries both a social and political message. DiCaprio delivers a powerful performance of a man’s tenacious search for riches to change his life with while Hounsou performs an impressive role in his uncompromising search for his son. The film is a thoughtful portrayal of a socially important issue that highlights the need for the public to become ethical consumers by demanding conflict free diamonds in the future. (Coppelia Hays Branscheid)