2005 - United States - 122 minutes
Writer and Director - Andrew Niccol
My Rating - 5 of 5 Stars
The rise to power of an international arms dealer is the subject of Lord of War. The film follows Yuri Orlov from his youth on the streets of New York, where he first gets the idea of going into arms's sales, through a career of accumulating wealth, winning the woman of his dreams, and gaining the power to bend governments to his will. The story is said to be based upon actual events with the character of Yuri representing five major arms dealers.
Nicolas Cage is the star of Lord of War, and I cannot think of many other living actors who could have taken this part and made it their own. He has an uncanny ability to portray a man without affectation yet exude powerful emotions of love, lust, guilt, and remorse. Cage narrates the film with his unique sardonic tone, and that narration is a perfect rendering of the message of the film: this is business -- big business -- and a few million innocent lives should never interfere with profit.
That special tone in Cage's voice is so very effective in such lines as:
"There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That's one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11?"
"I sell to leftists, and I sell to rightists. I even sell to pacifists, but they're not the most regular customers,"
Lines of this character and some humorous situations may cause viewers to see this as black comedy; however, the suffering caused by war depicted here is so graphic that humor has little standing. Nevertheless, movies are made to entertain, and this film's dark wit creates superior entertainment.
Jared Leto, as Yuri's brother, effectively represents the decay that infects a person of conscience who becomes involved in the business of human destruction. He provides an interesting contrast to Yuri who is seemingly without emotion or conscience.
Yuri's wife, beautifully played by Bridget Moynahan, shows us the love that might have been available to a man whose emotions had not shut him off from mankind.
For the depiction of pure evil and avarice, Eamonn Walker and Sammi Rotibi are notable for their portrayals of an African despot and his son. Rotibi especially chills with a manner of a man who has, from birth, absolute power over the life and death of anyone within his range.
Andrew Niccol's writing and direction have provided us with words that grip the mind and conscience and images that evoke both gentleness and horror. Lord of War should engage the interest and concern of a wide audience.
February 6, 2006