The age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists and calculators has succeeded.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Review of Blood Diamond

'People back home wouldn’t buy a ring if they knew it cost someone their hand.'

In the 80s you could get away with heroes dancing unscathed thorough fire fights, dispatching bad guys one handed with semi-automatic weapons and driving vehicles off buildings for a laugh. Nowadays audience have begun to demand a little realism with their action. Bullets tear out chunks where previously they made tidy holes, violence shatters limbs and lives and people rarely get up and walk away. This new found lust for realism even extends to character motivations and has implications for the political arena in which a film is set, thus we have Bond villains who’d rather make a bit of money than destroy the world, government spies in the pocket of the oil industry in Syriana and now we have Edward Zwick’s Blood Diamond. In younger, simpler times, Leo DeCaprio’s Danny Archer would have been a gimlet eyed charmer, a smuggler with a quick tongue, quicker fists and a nice line in self-deprecating one liners. Solomon Vandy, the African fisherman who finds the eponymous rock that kicks off the plot, would have been played by an upcoming black comedian fresh from the set of Saturday Night Live. The two would bicker hilariously for a bit, get into a few scrapes with disgruntled mercenaries and eventually escape Sierra Leone with the diamond and a pair of colour coded beauties who’d lost most of their clothes in the excitement. No more however, instead we get a fascinating performance of dignity and fury from Djimon Hounsou as Vandy, a fallible, unstable protagonist of questionable virtue in Archer and a script which uses the chase movie structure to ask uncomfortable questions about Western civilisation’s casual ravishment of the African continent. Yes there’s still guns, car chases and things going Bang! in exciting ways but mindless escapism this is not. If anything the opposite is true – here is a film that forces you to think rather more than you’re comfortable with. A message movie in genre clothing that despite the glossy trappings has something valuable to shout above the noise of its explosions.


Anonymous Tisch said...

In that picture Leo de C looks a bit like you (although not as much as Ryan Phillipe did standing at the top of the escalator in Cruel Intentions - happy times)

Tisch x

11:10 am  
Blogger wide-eyed said...

Ah, the days where I could legitimately be mistaken for Ryan Phillipe (happy times indeed).

Nova x

11:39 am  

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