Jesus Christ, this is fucking ridiculous. "In America it's bling bling... but out here it's bling bang!" Leonardo DiCaprio dramatically declares, pointing his fingers like a gun to emphasize his clever wordplay. DiCaprio is Danny Archer, a diamond smuggler in Sierra Leone who has a heart of gold and a preposterous accent; when he's not pontificating about blinging and banging, Archer's following around Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou), a local fisherman who's idyllic life was shattered about 30 seconds after Blood Diamond's opening credits. His family abducted by rebels, Vandy was sent to work in one of Sierra Leone's diamond mines, where—while unwittingly serving as inspiration for a socially conscious Kanye West track—he found a gigantic diamond worth a kajillion dollars. Vandy's since hidden the diamond, and now wants to exploit its value to save his family. Archer, meanwhile, wants to exploit Vandy to get the aforementioned kajillion dollars. And annoying journalist Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly) wants to exploit both of them to get a Pulitzer. Oh, and also, Blood Diamond's director and screenwriter, Edward Zwick and Charles Leavitt, want to exploit every sordid and horrible situation existing in Africa.
Blood Diamond—which feels as if it's roughly 18 hours and 26 minutes long—is crammed to the gills with the now-familiar horrors of non-America: Innocents get their brains blown out, brainwashed pre-teens blast both hiphop and AK-47s, blood spurts against white walls and brown earth, downtrodden refugees and vicious rebels shriek. Sure, DiCaprio valiantly leads Hounsou through stylized explosions, and Connelly tries to use her smoky eyes to look shocked at refugee camps' squalor, but nothing in Blood Diamond has any visceral impact whatsoever. All of these things are real, yes, and they're important, but according to Zwick, they're just hackneyed background noise. At best, the film's manipulative, sordid tourism is insulting; at worst, it's simply boring.
By the time the film's cartoony bad guy shows up—he growls, has a scary scar instead of an eye, and seems like he's been kicked out of the club for 007 villains—everything about Blood Diamond has turned into a maddening mix of filth and blood and greed and melodrama, capped off with an infuriatingly starry-eyed ending. Then again, maybe the goofy, feel-good denouement fits—Blood Diamond, for all its self-important, Oscar-season posturing, isn't really concerned with any of the issues it brings up. It's concerned about the bling bang. Whatever that is.