Against the back drop of the Civil War in Sierra Leone, a farmer, a smuggler, and a syndicate of businessmen match wits over the possession of a priceless diamond.
Edward Zwick has managed a rare feat in cinematic history. He has produced a picture which works as a brilliant action/adventure caper, and at the same time is an important commentary documenting why Africa is in the mess that it is, showing the criminal culpability of Western Governments and Capitalism in general for the appalling poverty that many Africans put up with.
It is the richest Continent on this Earth. Plentiful verdant landscape, huge natural resources of all kinds, from iron ore and oil, to diamonds and uranium plus a by and large warm, wet climate which produces copious amounts of food and water.
A continent largely at peace and prosperous until the coming of the Western Powers and the scramble for Empire in the 19th Century.
Machete wielding, limb amputating savages is the image Niall Ferguson and his pathetic bunch of revisionist "historians" would like to project of Africans pre “civilisation” by the West.
Limb amputation was introduced into Africa by the Belgians. Each time a slave escaped or misbehaved, then Belgian soldiers would sever the arm of every hundredth person in their charge in order to set an example.
Whilst Asia and, to some extent South America have taken advantage of an economic boom, Africa is poorer now than it was twenty years ago.
And it’s all our fault. No amount of hand wringing, wrist bands or the reforming of Pink Floyd will make a blind bit of difference until Tony Blair’s Africa Commission Report to the G8 in 2005 is implemented in full.
The film deals with all these issues but in a way where they are presented as a back ground narrative to the action, making it clear that non of the chases and fire fights could take place in any other context.
As an actor Leonardo Di Caprio just gets better and better, and this performance is mature, assured and above all totally believable as he plays a mercenary hot on the trail of a huge diamond uncovered by escapee slave worker played brilliantly by Dijimon Houson who uses this knowledge to try and find his rebel captured son.
Jennifer Connolly is perhaps the only weak link in the picture as her character is verging on the cardboard cut out. A journalist hooked on war driven adrenalin, but who also wants to make a difference.
She is lightweight and produces the only kitsch moments in the film and the director is at fault for this by the way he makes her flash a bit of flesh when we first see her.
A shame and the only real blip from a picture which is brilliantly paced and beautifully photographed the whole way through. And the action sequences ain’t half bad either.
The diamond trade shames us all and I hope this film makes the industry live up to it’s promises of the Kimberley Accord, signed in 2002 to prevent the trade in “Blood” diamonds mined by slaves in wartime conditions.
Tony Blair, in May 2000 bravely put his money where his mouth was by deploying our troops to put an end to the Civil War and act as honest broker in the restoration of Civilian Government.
Thanks to Iraq this will never again be possible and thousands will die as a result.
IN OTHER NEWS….
Monkey is back! The King of advertising in the new PG Tips commercial. Just brilliant.