Lord of War

Another hot day, another struggle to type my thoughts down without sounding like Crazy McSpazzy Pants from Mentaltown, Arizona. Still, anything to scrub the memory of The Clone Wars from my poor brain…

Lord of War (2005)

I’m not entirely sure what Nicolas Cage’s game is. I’m guessing he picks his projects by scrawling the film title on a Post-It, sticking it to a wall with about 50 others, closing his eyes, spinning around and throwing a dart in the general vacinity of said wall. I mean, how else can one explain his decision to do films like Bangkok Dangerous and Knowing? Due to this random dart technique, said projectile can sometimes land on good films. Films like Lord of War.

“You don’t have to worry. I’m not gonna tell you a pack of lies to make me look good. I’m just gonna tell you what happened.”

Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage) is a weapons dealer who lives by the mantra “where there’s a will, there’s a weapon”. Orlov tells us his story including his rise from penniless pistol salesman to international arms dealer. During the narrative we are introduced to Yuri’s brother, Vitaly (Jared Leto) and wife (Bridget Moynahan). The film is written and directed by Andrew Niccol, the writer of Gattaca and The Truman Show. Much like those films, Lord of War seems to have a warning of things to come hidden under proceedings. It’s no wonder I get the Manic Street Preachers’ song If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next stuck in my head everytime I watch The Truman Show… The story itself is a strong one, with enough character development and twists to keep you entertained. Nic Cage is very good as Orlov, somehow making a despicable character likeable. I really liked Jared Leto’s turn as Vitaly too, with Leto surprising me with his ability to act. Although, to be fair, the only thing I’ve really seen him in is Fight Club where all his has to do is face (literally) the fury of Ed Norton. I liked Ian Holm too, although I could have done with seeing more of him.

Lord of War is a film packed with ideas. It’s just a shame that it sometimes gets bogged down in delivering The Very Serious Message to let some of them breathe. The opening is genuinely jaw-dropping as we follow the path of a bullet from a factory production line into a young African boy’s head. It’s an incredibly powerful opening and sets the tone for the rest of the film perfectly.

As an audience we’ve become desensitised to guns. It’s a cold, hard fact. We are so used to seeing characters whip out a pistol at the slightest provocation that it just doesn’t faze us. Because of this, films have to work hard to get us to be scared of guns again and thankfully Lord of War does that. It even outlines the this whole issue with one soldier asking for the “gun of Rambo” and laughing as he randomly shoots it out of the window of a moving vehicle.

“They say, “Evil prevails when good men fail to act.” What they ought to say is, “Evil prevails.”

Lord of War is a good film, but I get the feeling it could have been brilliant if it wasn’t so heavy-handed with its message. Whilst I agree with the message, I couldn’t help but feel the film was lecturing me, rather than entertaining me.

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