It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a movie or reviewed one, and this was a rental. Actually it’s one of those movies you die to go and see when it’s out in theaters but never get around to.
Lord of War tells the tale of an arms dealer (Nicolas Cage) and his rise to power and riches while he battles both an Interpol agent (Ethan Hawke) and his own conscience. More importantly the film was amongst the few last year which discussed actual issues such as pharmaceutical schemes in the Constant Gardner and the power of oil in Syriana. Lord of War is of course about guns and war.
The production of the film seemed amazing to me. It was funded completely by international finances as no US studio would pick up the tab. One scene in the movie has tanks lined up for sale side by side which actually belonged to a Czech arms dealer and the filmmakers had to alert NATO just in case satellites picked up images of the set and thought there was a real war starting.
Nicolas Cage does a brilliant job of playing a great anti-hero type character who you find yourself almost cheering for regardless of the fact that he is responsible for so many deaths. His character, Yuri, has himself convinced that his job is as natural as war and he attempts to live in this world without taking sides so as to allow himself to never have to confront the moralities of such a job. I think the character is so powerful that he even convinces the audience watching, especially when his job is put into a greater worldly context.
I would’ve liked to see the film dive into the broader world of arms dealing; have it run parallel plots like Syriana. However instead it chose to focus on this one character instead and have him tell his story, which is a way of not pushing politics into it I suppose. Although the movie does end with a few lines which remind the viewers that (a) the movie is based on actual events and (b) the greatest arms dealers in the world are all members of the UN Security Council.
One of the most pivotal scenes has Yuri saying:
…I do rub shoulders with some of the most vile, sadistic men calling themselves leaders today. But some of these men are the enemies of your enemies. And while the biggest arms dealer in the world is your boss–the President of the United States, who ships more merchandise in a day than I do in a year–sometimes it’s embarrassing to have his fingerprints on the guns. Sometimes he needs a freelancer like me to supply forces he can’t be seen supplying. So. You call me evil, but unfortunately for you, I’m a necessary evil.
Bottom Line: 5/5