Lord of War - Review
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Director’s commentary; Making Of Lord of War; Making A Killing Inside The International Arms Trade; Nicolas Cage Interview; Cast And Crew Interviews; Deleted Scenes; Trailer.
HOLLYWOOD targets the arms trade in Lord of War, a sharp satirical thriller that hits with all the deadly accuracy of a sniper’s bullet.
Nicolas Cage stars as Yuri Orlov, a Ukrainian immigrant struggling to survive in a sleepy corner of Brooklyn, who suddenly wakes up to the fact that there is a lot of money to be made from dealing in guns.
The ensuing film – which is narrated by Cage’s character – chronicles Orlov’s rise from obscurity to becoming one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers, during which he comes to rub shoulders with some of the most powerful figures in global politics.
Along the way, he enlists the help of his younger brother, Vitaly (Jared Leto), while pursuing the woman of his dreams in the form of model-turned-actress, Fontaine (Bridget Moynahan).
But he also has to contend with the unwanted attentions of dogged Interpol agent, Jack Valentine (Ethan Hawke), as well as rival dealer, Simeon Weisz (Ian Holm) – both of whom want to erase Orlov from the picture permanently.
Lord of War is directed in suitably slick style by Andrew Niccol, who is previously best known as the writer and director of Gattaca, and for penning The Truman Show.
Here, he takes some little known facts about the arms trade and uses them to tell a fast-paced and frequently exciting story that is made all the more pertinent in the wake of current events.
Cage’s character, Orlov, could almost serve as a metaphor for America given that the film works from the basic premise that an estimated 80-90 per cent of all illegal small arms start in the state-sanctioned trade.
But the film sets its sights on many targets, from warlord dictators in Africa to gun enthusiasts the world over – seducing viewers with flashy visuals and typically grandiose explosions before delivering a hammer blow in the form of the harsh reality of a bullet’s impact.
Several scenes resonate, including the sight of an African mother and son being slaughtered, or a young boy being lined up as part of a firing squad.
Yet the film avoids the obvious temptation to become preachy and heavy-handed, keeping things satirical to the end.
Cage, as ever, provides a commanding presence, appearing as an amiable leading figure who must continually wrestle with his conscience over his failures as a human being.
He is a businessman first and foremost and is mostly only interested in cost in terms of profit, even going so far as to insist that he didn’t deal to Osama bin Laden in the late 80s – not because of what he represented, but rather because his cheques were prone to bouncing.
With success, however, comes loss and Orlov has to work hard to protect those he loves from the fallout from his deals.
Needless to say, the film flies in the face of most conventional action thrillers and is in no way patriotic, maintaining its sharp edge to the end.
It is designed to excite as well as ask questions and succeeds in doing both, making it a slick and intelligent experience that displays courage under fire from beginning to end.