Lord of War

Dir: Andrew Niccol, 2005. Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ethan Hawke, Bridget Moynahan, Jared Leto. Action.
Lord of War

Lord of War is a morality tale about a gunrunner’s rise and fall in a world bent on violence and greed.

Andrew Niccol (Gattaga) wrote and directed this darkly comic story of an international arms dealer. His screenplay is interesting, satirical, and well-paced. The film’s direction is stylish, quick, and greatly entertaining. Niccol has a sharp eye for details and finds the humor underlying the business of death -- or at least the irony of the lifestyle.

Zach Staenberg’s production design and Amir Mokri’s cinematography combine to make for a film that successfully captures a wide range of locales. Everything from the polish of wealthy America to cold Mother Russia to the bleak desert landscapes of Sierra Leone is well dressed and beautifully photographed.

Nicolas Cage plays “Yuri Orlov” in one my favorite of his many films. He is European by birth, brought up in Little Odessa, and striving for the American Dream. Yuri starts as a small time weapons dealer in New York who takes a journey across the globe as he moves to the top of the food chain, supplying munitions to further wars in all regions of the world. Along the way, he loses himself among dictators and villains, facing a crisis of conscience as an Interpol agent tries to bring him down.

Ethan Hawke (Training Day) has one of his coolest characters as the gung-ho Interpol agent  "Jack Valentine” who obsessively spends all his time trying to put Orlov out of commission.

Jared Leto (Requiem for a Dream) plays Yuri’s little brother, “Vitaly”—a wild-child with an inclination for hard partying and loose women. He acts as a sort of moral compass for his older brother, who often can only see in dollars and cents, but not in the cost of life.

Ian Holm (Lord of the Rings) and Eamonn Walker (Unbreakable) provide solid supporting performances. Holm as “Simeon Weisz,” a sleazy veteran of the arms game who finds himself out of place as Communism falls and there is no side to be on anymore. And Walker (Duma) is charmingly terrorfying as “Andre Baptiste,” a Western educated warlord despot of an African nation who commits acts of genocide as easily as he might tie his shoes. He is the most dangerous type of murderer—one who sees himself as an idealistic liberator.

Although a “message film,” Lord of War is a lot of fun. On an interesting side note, Orlov is based largely on the exploits of former Soviet officer Viktor Bout, who was arrested in Thailand in March 2008. The "Merchant of Death" currently awaits extradition by the United States in a Bangkok prison.

Posted by:
Seamus Smith
Apr 27, 2009 12:05pm
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