Blood Diamond Edward Zwick

Genuine cinematic intelligence would maintain that you keep Sierra Leone residents in focus when discussing their 1999 civil war and the illicit trade in "conflict diamonds.” But Edward Zwick is not a man of intelligence; after all, he’s from Hollywood. Thus this would-be expose of the war and the black-market in contraband rocks constantly diverts from its lone, black, African protagonist to cover the quibbling and sexual tension between two whiteys who should know better. Djimon Hounsou does his best as a father who’s hidden a valuable pink diamond after being forced into slavery by the brutal R.U.F., but he’s constantly upstaged by Leonardo DiCaprio’s jaded ex-mercenary diamond smuggler and Jennifer Connelly’s valorous photojournalist as they argue and commiserate. Never mind that Hounsou’s son has been made a child soldier and that he’s been torn from the rest of his family, DiCaprio’s sub-Rick Blaine cynicism and Connelly’s missionary zeal are the real meat of the movie, which doesn’t give a sense of the people and culture of the country, let alone the marginalised character who drives the narrative. There’s a certain primitive disgust to be had in watching the blood and sorrow of the atrocity recreations but as it’s used to juice up the besides-the-point melodrama, it’s largely, well, besides the point. The movie is a disgrace and the people who suffered through these horrors deserve better. Extras on the two-disc special edition include a commentary with Zwick that gives some back-story the movie could have used, an hour-long documentary on conflict diamonds that’s well worth your time, two featurettes on DiCaprio and Connelly getting into their roles (again, Hounsou is shunted aside), an okay clip on the production of the "Siege of Freetown” and a largely ridiculous video for "Shine On ‘Em” by Nas. (Warner)