Set in civil war-torn Sierra Leone in 1999, 'Blood Diamond' tells a story of survival and redemption in the face of man's inhumanity to man. 

Blood diamonds are those mined in a warzone and sold covertly in order to fund a war. They came to the world's attention during the Sierra Leone conflict, when the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) tried to overthrow the government and used the illicit diamond trade to fund their efforts. 

In a village yet untouched by the disorder, we are introduced to our hero Solomon Vandy (Hounsou), a modest fisherman who lives a peaceful life with his wife and two children. It is not long before the rebels attack the village, slaughtering and maiming with indifference. Solomon and his young son are captured and while the former is enslaved to work mining diamonds, his son is conditioned to murder for the insurgents. 

While labouring under the watchful eye of a sadistic commander, Solomon is caught trying to steal a gigantic, priceless diamond but manages to escape and bury the treasure. What follows is a gluttonous pursuit by various factions, including self-serving smuggler Danny Archer (DiCaprio), to get their hands on the diamond as Solomon tries to ensure the safety of his family. 

This is an entertaining film that perhaps overstretches in order to educate its audience on the wide existence of blood diamonds, the presence of child soldiers in war-torn Africa and the widespread exploitation of the disadvantaged by those in the developed world.

While each of the characters is somewhat held back by a poor script, the acting is superb. Djimon Hounsou excels portraying a simple man caught up in a chaotic episode, who is burdened in his mind by the plight of his family, unsure how to help them and who to trust. DiCaprio also puts in a quality performance as the anti-hero Archer, who wrestles between his opposing nature and conscience. 

Overall, 'Blood Diamond' doesn't scale the heights that it perhaps intended or could have reached. The poor dialogue takes hugely from both the story and the chemistry between the characters and although it deals with very real and serious issues, it fails to pack the punch of other films, for example ' The Constant Gardener', set on the African continent.

The result of which is that we the audience are left caring less than we should about some of the characters. Nevertheless, 'Blood Diamond' is certainly worth a look.

David McDonnell