If you didn’t already know it, Africa has quite a few problems. One of these problems is the blood diamond trade. Essentially, blood diamonds are diamonds mined in a war-torn area of Africa, and they are sold in order to raise funds to fuel more war. What Blood Diamond, the film, tries to do is bring awareness to this plight, and also tell a compelling story that will keep you wanting to watch it, despite how preachy it’s being.

It’s a good thing that the story is compelling enough, and the acting draws us in, or else the message might end up getting lost somewhere between the time it takes you to pause the film and get up and eject if from your DVD player. You might not remember the message, but the film will at least keep you intrigued and interested, which is a good thing.

The plot revolves around two men. One of whom is a captured Mende fisherman, Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou), who is forced to look for diamonds in the fields. He finds a giant pink one, but while trying to smuggle it out, is caught, being sent to prison. He gets bailed out by Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio), who has heard of the giant diamond that Solomon found. They embark on a quest to re-find that specific diamond, as well as hopefully rescue Solomon’s family, who also got captured at one point.

During this quest, they meet an American journalist (Jennifer Connelly) covering the story of “blood diamonds”. She helps the pair sneak back into the war-torn area in exchange for information that she would otherwise be unable to obtain. Once inside, we witness the true brutality and cost of the diamond industry, and it’s at this point that — if the film wasn’t already captivating — you would want to turn it off.

But you won’t, because the two lead characters have already grown on you. Archer, armed with a faux Rhodesian accent, is determined, but is also a smuggler. He’s a smart-mouthed character, doing something illegal, but we end up caring for him. Solomon is just a father wishing to get his family back. And the American journalist just wants to break the story of the blood diamonds, just like director Edward Zwick is attempting to do.

Let this be known though: Blood Diamond is not, strictly speaking, a drama. It’s definitely got enough action scenes to carry a serious action film, and is also thrilling enough to work in that regard. There are grand-scale shootouts, with explosions and heads being blown off; and it’s all shot in a realistic way, making it feel all the more disturbing. But that hammers home the point even stronger, doesn’t it?

The film is set during the Sierra Leone civil war in 1996-1999. It is depicted as a terrible place to live in, where children are used as soldiers, given drugs and smokes as motivation. And of course, the threat of death. You certainly don’t want to be a character within the war, at least, if it actually was as bad as the film shows it to be.

I’m not sure how the best way to describe DiCaprio’s performance in Blood Diamond, except to say that he is the driving force of the film. He’s not necessarily the heart and soul, because that goes to Djimon Hounsou, but he somehow comes through as the more relatable character. He sets things in motion, and we care a lot about him as the film progresses, especially when we see some of the choices he makes throughout.

The only real problem I can see with Blood Diamond is in its plot, which, while entertaining, is formulaic. Except for its ending, which I will not spoil, there won’t be many points where you will be surprised, or any plot twists that you won’t see coming. It’s a very basic and easy to predict story, but that allows it to not get in the way of the bigger issue that the film is trying to bring attention to.

All of the elements that make up Blood Diamond result in an incredibly captivating film. There is a larger issue that the film is trying to bring attention to, and for the most part, it succeeds in making you care about it. The actors are superb, the action is entertaining, and the film stays thrilling throughout its runtime. All in all, it’s a great film that I definitely recommend giving a shot. You’ll likely be glad you did. If nothing else, you will get a well-acted, highly entertaining film, one that will keep you entertained for the better portion of two hours.