Leonardo DiCaprio has been part of many high-profile movies. One of his lesser-known movies, which also ranks as one of the best movie performances in his career, is now available to stream for free on YouTube Movies.
Blood Diamond is a political war thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Danny Archer, a mercenary diamond smuggler during the Sierra Leone Civil War. The term “blood diamond” is in reference to diamonds mined in war zones only to be sold to finance conflicts of any sort.
The movie begins with the horrors of the civil war coming to the door of Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou). When his village is raided by the Revolutionary United Front, which was a constant happenstance during that time, Vandy is separated from his family and forced into a workforce overseen by the ruthless warlord Captain Poison.
One morning, Vandy finds an enormous pink diamond in the river. Poison tries to take the diamond from him but before he can, they are invaded by government troops. Thinking quickly, Vandy buries the diamond before being captured. Vandy and Poison are then taken to Freetown, where they are incarcerated. How apropos.
While incarcerated, Vandy runs into Leonardo DiCaprio’s Archer, who himself is jailed for trying to smuggle diamonds into Liberia. When Archer hears of this large pink diamond, he arranges for him and Vandy to be cut loose from the detention center. The two split, Vandy heading back to Sierra Leone and Archer to his employer, Colonel Coetzee (Arnold Vosloo).
Archer wants to grab the diamond to sell so he can finally leave the continent, but Coetzee wants him to retrieve it as payment for Archer’s botched smuggling adventure. Archer heads to Sierra Leone to track down Vandy.
Meanwhile, Vandy returns to his home only to find that the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) has taken his young son. Determined to get him back, Vandy teams up with Archer and journalist Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly) in what they hope is a win-win-win. If it all works out, then Vandy gets his son back, Archer gets his diamond, and Maddy gets the story of the horror of the Civil War and how it is being financed with the blood diamonds.
As the three team up, they find ways to get each closer to their goal. But along the way, a fundamental change happens for Leonardo DiCaprio’s Archer. He begins to see, truly, how his actions of diamond smuggling have affected the continent as the war atrocities unfold around him.
Vandy eventually finds his son, who has been brainwashed by the RUF. Archer finds his pink diamond but not without cost. Maddy gets her story. How it all plays out is something worth watching.
Blood Diamonds offers a bleak look at the realities of the Sierra Leone Civil War. Director Edward Zwick doesn’t flinch when it comes to showing said horrors, which include turning children into soldiers and cutting off the hands of people in order to discourage them from voting. What makes this even more horrific is the knowledge that what is being depicted on screen happened (and still does) in real life. It can sometimes be hard to watch.
Charles Leavitt penned the script for Zwick, though it was rewritten by Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz. By the time Zwick had finished the rewrite with Herskovitz, he was so enthralled with the story that he also chose to direct the film.
Warner Bros. gave Zwick a $100 million budget to bring the horrors of blood diamonds to light. The film didn’t disappoint at the box office as it brought home nearly $172 million.
The movie was met with mixed reviews critically, but the one thing critics did agree on was the performances by both Leonardo DiCaprio and his co-star Djimon Hounsou. Both stars were nominated for numerous awards to include a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for DiCaprio and a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Hounsou. For Hounsou’s effort, he won Best Supporting Actor at the Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards, National Board of Review Awards, and the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards.
Blood Diamond, critically speaking for Leonardo DiCaprio, represents more of a shift in how critics began to see him at the time. His previous movie, The Departed, also had brought a ton of praise for DiCaprio, and critics were beginning to see growth in his performances. Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post remarked on his acting by writing that, “Between this movie and The Departed, the 32-year-old actor seems to have enjoyed a growth spurt this year; his baby face has given way to a new fullness and gravitas, and he wears the new heft well.”
Leonardo DiCaprio then went on a roll after Blood Diamond. He was seen in Body of Lies, Revolutionary Road, Shutter Island, and Christopher Nolan’s bendy Inception. He then followed those hits by playing J. Edgar Hoover in the film with the same title, he played a wonderful villain in Django Unchained, Gatsby in The Great Gatsby, and then another great performance as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street.
Say what you will about DiCaprio, but he sure has given fans a lot to chew on at the movie complexes across the United States. His last film, the epic Quentin Tarantino homage to Hollywood in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, marked the return of DiCaprio to the big screen after a four-year absence.
Next up for Leo is the comedy feature Don’t Look Up and then he reunites with legendary director Martin Scorsese in Killer of the Flower Moon. As intriguing as that sounds, DiCaprio’s role after his Scorsese reunion may be even more exciting as he takes on the role of one of America’s most notorious serial killers Dr. H. H. Holmes who, during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair built a hotel near the fair to lure his victims into so he could do his dastardly business. The movie, The Devil in the White City, is based on the non-fiction novel by Erik Larson of the same name.
While we wait for those movies to hit the theaters, why not check out Blood Diamond on YouTube Movies. You can see it here.