Based on actual events, this black comedy/drama stars Nicholas Cage as international arms smuggler Uri Orlov. The story follows Uri from his humble beginnings as a Soviet immigrant in 1970s Brooklyn and peaks with his invo... more »lvement in selling off the stockpiled arsenal of post-Cold War Ukraine to--among other top clients--the sadistic African dictator André Baptiste, Sr. (Eamonn Walker). Jared Leto costars as Uri's little brother Vitaly, whose conscience and a burgeoning cocaine problem get in the way of business. Ethan Hawke is good as a sanctimonious Interpol agent with a vendetta against Uri, but the film's biggest dose of onscreen gravitas comes from Walker, whose Baptiste seethes with a heavy, serpent-like malevolence. Written and directed by Andrew Niccol, the film makes fine use of the brisk stream-of-consciousness narration style that Martin Scorcese brought to the true crime genre with GOODFELLAS (1992), and a near constant flow of action and classic rock songs that ensure a speedy, riveting ride through three decades of global carnage. Cage, who coproduced, lets his patented oddball magnetism slowly change polarity, until viewers realize they've been led into a moral quagmire by falling for his self-delusory spiels about supply and demand, making this one of the bravest and most jet-black comedies of its decade.« less
B. Merritt | WWW.FILMREVIEWSTEW.COM, Pacific Grove, California | 09/18/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm kind of shocked to see poor reviews of this film here at Amazon.com. I think part of the reason some individuals didn't enjoy the film is that they didn't explore the depths of the characters very well; and this is definitely a character-driven film.
Nicholas Cage is perfect at Yuri Olav, a Ukrainian native who's family moved to America years before. They run a substandard Russian restaurant that serves borscht (beet soup) as a staple. Their father has become a devout Jew. And Yuri and his brother Vitaly (Jared Leto, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM) help with the restaurant. Then one day, after witnessing a failed assassination attempt, Yuri receives an epiphany: everyone needs guns. Thus the stage is set for him to become one of the premiere arms dealers in the world.
Against the backdrop of Yuri's life, we get to see the effects of his chosen profession upon his brother's psyche. Vitaly gets into drugs and women, anything he can to help him forget that he and his brother are involved in a business that allows people to kill other people. And when Yuri gives up gun running for a while, Vitaly too comes back to a semblance of normalcy. But when Yuri returns to guns, and asks Vitaly to join him, the stress becomes overwhelming (this is something that I have yet to see any other reviewer comment on and, the way Jared Leto pulls off his excellent portrayal of Yuri's brother, it's a pretty powerful message.)
I also think that many reviewers may not understand the mentality of a sociopath. Their moral compass is broken, according to our standards. So when Yuri (Cage) doesn't grow out of his morally ambiguous state, it didn't surprise me one little bit.
Also, Nicholas Cage is a deadpan actor, and that's probably why they chose him. Remember RAISING ARIZONA and the diaper scene in the convenience store? Or LEAVING LAS VEGAS? Or BRINGING OUT THE DEAD? Cage was the only person I could think of who could pull off a convincing Yuri.
I also need to comment on the brutal message that smacks the viewer. From the opening sequence in the film where we see Yuri standing in a war-torn street surrounded by a paved street covered in spent gun shells, to the scene where Vitaly witnesses the execution of children in Africa, there's not a single moment in the film where the biting reality of what Yuri does and how it effects those around him isn't displayed.
One thing that really intrigued me, too, is that I saw the film's trailer on TV long before the movie came out, and they always showed the bit where Yuri is in the airport and is approached by agents from the ATF, and Yuri says "I guess this isn't about the alcohol or tobacco." I laughed at the trailer. But interestingly enough, once that scene came up on screen in context to the rest of the plot, there was very little comedy in it and the message much more powerful and poignant.
This film definitely had it's comedic moments, but laughing at it is oft-times painful to think about because of what we see Yuri and his brother go through later."
THE RISE AND LEVELING OFF OF AN AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL WEAPO
Guy De Federicis | east of here | 10/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage) sells international weaponry like he's selling used cars. If you don't like the deals from the former Soviet Union's stockpile of arsenal, you may be interested in a huge lot of discontinued assault rifles. How about unused guns and ammo from the U.S.-led aid to the Bosnian War? If you stick a gun in his face, he'll bring the price way down.
"Lord Of War" is a cynical, yet not heartless and probably accurate portrayal of an American 'secondary market' international weapons dealer. Yuri globe-trots the world scooping up fantastic deals on abandoned and obsolete weaponry and peddles it off to third world countries where demand for blooldshed is high. His biggest competitor, he likes to joke, is The President of The United States.
So you get a heavy dose of good-humored anti-war subtleties, with a highly entertaining movie thrown in for good measure. The first person narrative, sometimes spoken directly into the camera, offers an endless stream of topical one-liners. Some work, and some don't - "Buying your first gun is like making love for the first time. You don't know what you're doing, but you know you're having fun." - or something to that effect. You eventually come away with a crash course in international arms dealing, that all the Time magazine issues in the world couldn't offer, sure to make you a more politically conscious observer. Exposure to the horrific results of weaponry in such an entertaining fashion is harsh, humane and like an unexpected needle from a doctor.
Like a confident puppateer above the chaotic gunsmoke of war, Nicolas Cage reveals a believable and likable global arms dealer, who could be the same guy you saw selling a hot car radio in an ally. His scenes selling guns are nerve-bending as he makes bold physical and vocal gestures never riling dangerous warlords, while the slightest nervous tick could set off a slaughter. Bridget Moynahan's 'trophy wife' is anything but, an honest and touching portrayal of a rather superficial person coming to terms with her husband's means to wealth. I loved what she said about her failed careers and her stand against Yuri's profession, - "I have been a failed artist and a failed actress. I will not be a failed human being." Eamonn Walker as Liberian dictator Andre Baptiste delivers a suave and vicious characterization as a man who will 'test drive' a new assault rifle by killing someone in the room with it.
I went into this film mistakenly thinking it was the upcoming film, "Jarhead". I saw previews for both and confused the titles. A little troubled by my mistake, it was as if someone pointed a gun to my forehead and said, "watch this film instead." I'm sold. Good deal!
Helpful in National Soul Searching and Confronting Reality
Robert D. Steele | Oakton, VA United States | 02/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
Many of the reviews of this movie are unusually naive and stupid.
My review of this movie is based on a lifetime overseas as the son of an oilman, as a Marine Corps infantry officer, as a clandestine case officer for the Central Intelligence Agency, and as the foremost trainer of governments interested in getting a grip on reality by focusing on open source of information in all languages.
This is a first rate movie with some truly extraordinary visuals and some truly extraordinary lines. It is an intelligence movie for intelligent people, and it should certainly give anyone both a couple of hours of enjoyment, and a couple of hours of reflection.
Among the highlights:
1) AK-47 as the real weapon of mass destruction
2) Africans stripping a plane overnight, literally pulling every piece of it off and making it "disappear"
3) There is one gun for every 12 people, the arms dealers goal is to arm the other 11 as quickly as possible
4) The top arms dealers ("merchants of death") are the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
I read more than I watch movies, and will end with two comments: a) all of my reading bears out the importance and relevance of this movie; and b) it is easily one of the more serious and appreciable movies I have seen in some time. The intellect in the devising and presentation of this movie is absolutely first rate."
Way better than DVD.
alexei | 07/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is partly in response to the 1 star review. I don't know what kind of system he is using, but on my 37 inch 1080p LCD display this blu-ray disk looks WAY better than DVD.
That said, could it be a better? Sure it could. But it's ridiculous to slam this movie for that. The detail is actually amazing in most of the picture. I can see pores of skin, blood vessels in eyes, small grit, and other sharp details throughout.
If you want a movie that makes the DVD version look ugly this will fit the bill. If you can't tell the difference you need glasses or a new HDTV."
Not for the blind follower
Mia Miao | Seattle, WA United States | 12/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Loved this movie...took my partner to see it as I thought it was another blow-em-up guy flick but it turned out to be a deeper and well thought out movie of the now generation. I was suprised how uncompromising the character was and jeered/cheered him all the way through to the suprising end. Worth a watch and might even get the viewer outside their media washed mind...or not. We need more movies out there like this. Thought provoking and the guilty pleasure of a hollywood action flick!"