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Atop a hillside in Liberia overlooking an impending village massacre
once the arms deal settles, Nicolas Cage's Yuri pleads to his
conscience rattled brother Vitaly (Jared Leto), "It is none of our
business!" Writer and Director Andrew Niccol's "Lord of War" is all
about the big business of war, and the cost of selling one's soul. That
lost soul is Yuri Orlov played masterfully by Nicolas Cage. Cage as
Yuri also narrates the story. Niccol sets the warped and dark tone in
the opening sequence of the manufacture of a bullet to its final
destinationso to speak. Yuri comments that there is one firearm for
every 12 people in the world. So the question is "How do we arm the
other eleven?" Niccol's "Lord of War" is not so much a clever
indictment of humanity, rather an acknowledgment of perhaps humanity's
darker nature. In a poignant and chilling realization for Yuri (Cage)
he says, "They say that 'evil prevails when good men fail to act.' It
should be 'evil prevails'." I don't think this is cynicism on Niccol's
part, rather only stating what is so given all of history and now. He
certainly makes us think from the inside out.
Yuri Orlov (Cage) is from a Ukrainian family in Little Odessa, NY. As a young man he has an epiphany witnessing a Russian mafia hit. Being an arms dealer is the path to success. He finds that he also has an innate gift for his chosen profession. He enlists his brother Vitaly (Leto) into the business. "Lord of War" traces the Orlov brothers over the course of 20 yearsthrough the end of the Cold War to the advent of terrorist threats and dictatorships in third world countries. Yuri truly becomes the Lord of War supplying arms to anyone and any country for a profit. He also acts as an independent agent for undisclosed countries supplying arms to "freedom fighters". One gets the drift. Yuri eventually hits his stride and becomes very successful and very wealthy. He marries his trophy bride, supermodel Ava Fontaine (stunning Bridget Moynahan), has a son, and living in a luxury apartment in Manhattan. All the while he eludes the grasp of Interpol Agent Jack Valentine (very good Ethan Hawke), by keeping three steps ahead. Predictably Yuri's world comes crashing in upon him. In a powerful scene with Ava who purposely ignores what her husband really does for a living, Yuri has a conscience meltdown.
The actors in "Lord of War" are great. Nicolas Cage is such a powerful and versatile actor. I don't think any other actor than himself, could enroll sympathy as arms dealer Yuri. Cage gives Yuri a subtle detached edge and an expert in context. Cage knows he is in morally bankrupt position, and he uses his smarts and sense of humor to rationalize that he only supplies the weapons to men who do evil. Yuri is the ultimate poster child for "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." Jared Leto is surprising as the coke head brother, who eventually cops to the monster he has becomethe counterpoint to Yuri. Bridget Moynahan is deceivingly powerful as Ava, the former model aware that her asset of being pretty is fading, and closes her eyes to what her husband does until it is too late. Moynahan is stunningly beautiful and has distinctive grace and vulnerability. Ethan Hawke as Jack Valentine is the intrepid idealist saving the world from the likes of Yuri. Hawke is very strong and compelling.
Andrew Niccol's "Lord of War" ends and the world continues on. The echoes of Yuri voice, just "evil prevails" is a chilling and poignant reminder. Nicolas Cage is brilliant as the lost soul in "The Lord of War". "The Lord of War" is one the year's best.
A movie about a gunrunner who arms the dictators, tyrants, and genocide-perpetrators of the world should not be this deliciously funny. Lord of War is story-telling perfection. The opening scene depicts the life of a bullet, from its creation in the factory to the moment it blasts through the head of a poor African child. Nicolas Cage is Yuri Orlov, the son of Ukrainian immigrants, who becomes the world's most successful arms dealer. Writer/director Andrew Niccol took every major world conflict of the part 25 years and seamlessly incorporated them into a smart, funny, complex story about violence, corruption, and the essence of warfare. Lord of War has no clear-cut, black-or-white, good-or-evil "moral of the story," but no intelligent observation ever does. It's just a fabulous film. "I never sold to Osama Bin Laden," Yuri tells the audience. "Not on moral grounds, but because his checks were always bouncing back then."
"Lord of War" is about a man named Yuri (Nicolas Cage) who in the early
80's decides that he doesn't want to just work in a restaurant for the
rest of his life and decides that instead he wants to be an arms
dealer. Once he makes his first sale, Yuri is hooked on the feeling of
making big money for selling firearms, and continues to sell the
firearms but he wants more and more of a profit and more and more of a
challenge. It's not until an Interpol agent (Ethan Hawke) is hot on
Yuri's case that he begins to question the nature of his business and
whether what he is doing for a living is moral and if he should be
responsible for the hands these weapons get into and what they are used
for. A powerful performance by Nicolas Cage, as well as a great
thought-provoking movie ensues
I love movies like this one for a few
reasons. The main reason is that for the most part you can't predict
what is going to happen next or where the film is going. Another reason
I like movies like this is because it's powerful and its makes you
think. And lastly I like a movie like this because it doesn't end in a
typical way and actually leaves you feeling blown-away and surprised.
The filmed starred Nicolas Cage who lately has done of some the best work of his career. His performance here is top-notch and powerful. There are so many other people in the film including Jared Leto, Ian Holm, Ethan Hawke and Bridget Moynahan to name a few who are also very good at the roles they played. This film is written and directed by Andre Niccol the same man who wrote "The Terminal" and "The Truman Show" so I guess I shouldn't be so surprised by why I actually liked this film so much, it had a good lead actor and a good screenwriter.
I guess this movie all comes down to how open minded the movie-goers who see this are. I guess it also amounts to where you stand on the political fence. The film is not for those who don't have an open mind about things that are going on in the world today. The movie is based on true events so be warned that some of things shown in the film are happening in real life or did happen at one point in time. To be honest, I do believe what the film states in the end, it doesn't seem at all far fetched. It's like Yuri says in the film "it's not our war and no matter what we do we can't stop it" and that's true it's like smoking kills people every day but there are people who run cigarette companies everyday knowing that they are killing people every single day and getting people addicted to something that in the end will kill them. Is that moral? What can we do to stop it? These are questions this film asks and leaves it to the viewer to decide on.
So in the end, this movie isn't for everyone. In a sense this film is kind of like the movie "Blow" because it's about a man who feels his life isn't complete without selling something that is bad. He has everything he could ever want but still needs to sell the firearms. It's an amazing and powerful story which I feel really puts things in perspective as far as us Americans look at things. Nicolas Cage's performance is incredible as he seems to not care at all for the people's lives he puts at stake every day and when it comes to his own life he still seems unemotional and doesn't seem to worry. Personally I think this is one of the best film's of year and is in fact just as good as the other political drama currently released called "The Constant Gardner" so if you have an open mind about things and enjoy movies that will make you think, well check out "Lord of War" because it's well worth the price of admission at the theater.
MovieManMenzel's final rating for "Lord of War" is a 9/10.
Yuri Orlov(Nicolas Cage) tells his humorous, disturbing, and tragic
story of coming from nothing to becoming the greatest gun-runner in the
Lord of War could not have been made better. The narration by cage was not only hysterical but when needed to be, emotional. The acting was the best this year. Cage showed me that he could find a character that actually fit him and the supporting cast with Jared Leto and Bridget Moynahan was incredible. I have never seen a movie that was so funny and so dramatic since my viewing of American Beauty.
The writing was beautiful. There is nothing more to say about it. It was just B-e-a-t-i-f-u-l. The movie is also very entertaining which can't be said about most dramatic movies but then again this movie is more than just dramatic, it's in it's own category! The story is gripping and makes you want Cage to succeed in his illegal actions after you have seen the other side of his criminal lifestyle. It characterizes every day warlords to the point where you understand them and sympathize for them and maybe even blame the American government due to fact that it is based on actual events. Overall, the movie was incredible and honestly one of the best this year.
I highly recommend this movie.
Many people might walk away from this one not feeling "entertained"
because it's not your typical Hollywood thriller. It's not a "Feel
Good" movie you should take a date on in the hopes of coming away high
on life and hand in hand. It's a movie that'll make you think and might
disturb the uninformed viewer who knows little about the politics of
This is a movie based on actual events (that means it's a movie that has some truth to it). From what I heard the director made quite a bit of research of the gun running world when creating this movie.
This movie takes a look at the gun running business through the story of one particular trafficker played by Cage. It goes through two decades of wars & conflicts and how the business and politics of gun running works. Cage is the middle man in that world, who navigates through it very professionally and coolly. Cage's character is made to be likable, but not a hero by any means.
Many people may think that this movie depicts certain cultures and races in a bad light, but if you know anything about history and keep up to date with world events you'll understand the truth behind these portrayals.
The movie is interesting because it is as close as to a realistic look to arms trafficking as Hollywood could produce without making a documentary. It's refreshing because of this.
I hope people see this movie because it very much shows the truth behind how wars are supplied and how the richest nations in the world have done this for the ultimate prize that thing that makes the world go round Money.
The movie as a whole is produced very well and the acting and cinematography is up to par with the type of film it is (as mentioned before, don't expect a big production Hollywood action flick).
Don't expect your typical Hollywood ending here either.
(I'd compare this movie with Buffalo Soldiers (2001) with Joaquin Phoenix)
I felt this movie & the actors/actresses did their parts at portraying the turmoils of a man unable to escape his addiction in a dog eat dog world. Nicholas Cage's role of a "gunrunner" sheds light to subjects otherwise not focused on by todays society. Too often do films dull down the truth of life. The term "speechless" comes to me when i think of what one word to describe this film. Cage does a wonderful job of keeping his guard up and showing how strong and selfless one must be to do what no one else will. Despite the graphic nature of the subject and reality behind how corrupt this world is; This movie is not the catalyst for out-lash. It's simply a great film. Blame the real world, not Hollywood.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Gulp. What stays with you long after seeing this movie, is the "based
on actual events" caveat. Even if this has been Hollywoodized to the
max, the core story that of Yuri Orlov, Ukrainian immigrant boy who
learns running guns is easy money and that he has a real knack for it,
then grows up to be a conscience-free worldwide leader in arms dealing,
etc. is bone-chilling because grains of truth exist.
Writer/Director Andrew Niccol keeps ratcheting up his incisive view of the world, surgically cutting away our illusions, and his scalpel cuts deeper as his talents mature. On his journey from "The Truman Show" to "Lord of War," Niccol has maintained his connection to individual people too often sacrificed at the altar of profit and exploitation. He has a profound ability to reveal the conscience and humanity of man subverted and supplanted by the coldness of commerce (or technology, as in his 1997 "Gattaca"). More and more "civilization," less and less civility. Barbarism dressing in Armani, the Wolf in Grandma's nightgown waiting patiently to devour us with the gusto of a gourmand.
Nicolas Cage is perfect as Yuri. Goal-oriented, focused, determined to succeed. He is neither overtly cruel nor ruthless, just a businessman with utterly no remorse or self-recrimination about what he does for a living and how crushing and devastating it may be to the insignificant, disposable "little guy." Without a moral compass or conscience. In other words, an Enron executive. Or Tyco. Or Adelphia.
Case portrays Yuri as the epitome of a rationalizer He genuinely believes that he's only doing what someone else would do if he were no longer in the picture. Just a link in the chain. Simply the middleman. Think of all the clichés that those aiding and abetting evil in all its manifestations use to justify their role in the process. "If not me, someone else will do it." "The law of supply and demand." "To the victor go the spoils." "I didn't pull the trigger " Or whatever. From corporate greed that impoverishes the worker whose pension plan paid for their jets, jewels and vacations, to arms dealers whose stock in trade mows down third world children by the townful.
That is a far, far more deadly stone killer than an over-the-top fictionalized movie-made murdering weirdo, as this one could live next door to any one of us (in a very upscale neighborhood, of course). His toxic product is totally indifferent to age, race, gender, religion, nationality, economic status, or any other distinguishing characteristics of mankind. Just a tool, he would no doubt tell you as he glanced as his Rolex before dashing off in his Jaguar or Bentley. And he'll arm either side, both sides, any side it's of no concern to him. Terrifying, I tell you.
Jared Leto, as Yuri's younger brother Vitaly, will break your heart. It's as if Vitaly is the sin-eater, absorbing all the guilt to which Yuri is impervious. He is a sponge, while Yuri is stainless steel. Unable and yes, unwilling, to break the bonds of brotherhood, Vitaly too aids and abets the evil that masquerades as business, just business.
Bridget Moynahan is fragile and wistful as Ava Fontaine, super model and Yuri's dream girl. Her vulnerability and gullibility feed one another, as she too becomes one of Yuri's goals in life. Well played by Moynahan, but the audience just doesn't buy her complete ingenuousness. 'Waaaaaay too much money there, Ava.
Dictators and despots fast become Yuri's close personal friends, and competing arms dealers his enemies. His threshold of tolerance for violence grows with his wealth, and you wait to see how long this can escalate, how much of a blind eye he can turn. There are arms fairs and shiploads of weapons, all of which pass beyond the control of agent Jack Valentine (Ethan Hawke), much to his aggrieved frustration. You may find, as I did, that the Valentine character is fairly wasted and impotent throughout the movie, and that no doubt is intentional. The somewhat heavy-handed slap-you-upside-the-head message being that good is usually, thoroughly, stomped into the blood-soaked earth by evil. Perhaps the most telling line of dialog in this flick is when Simeon Weisz says, "Governments are changed more often by bullets than votes." This is a difficult movie to digest after you've seen it. While watching, you are knocked senseless by the violence, the inhumanity, the ugliness. Most of all by the fear of the reality that lies beneath its surface. But it is superbly done, as punishing as it may be. The dialog is inventive and original in most instances brutally so -- but the lines are crafted in such a way as to BECOME the future axioms and thereafter clichés that will be repeated over and over in the context of war, politics, global violence, and the trappings of same.
Not an easy movie to watch, but perhaps every person on the planet should. Don't expect light entertainment: Just bite the bullet and watch. And learn.
I was really surprised that Hollywood was able to tackle a huge moral morass like the black market arms trade and leave the moral issues in the audience's lap. Yuri (played by Nicholas Cage) goes to work in a particularly ugly world. When he says that he's had a bad day at the office, you can be pretty sure that someone has been shot or blown up. At any event, what I liked about this picture was that although Yuri obviously has some moral issues to wrestle with, he does so on his own terms, and we are left to figure out the rights and the wrongs. Since most movie-goers don't like to leave a movie with food for thought, this picture may not play very broadly in theaters, but I hope it gets a good audience on video. I also though that Jared Leto was wonderful as Yuri's tragically addicted and unhappy brother.
This was a great movie. Cage delivered on the "anti-hero" - a 21st
The locations were cool and "spectacular". From a visual standpoint this movie really does take you around the world. New York, Russia, Libya, Libera, etc. This movie is shot very, very well.
The pacing of the movie is brisk, the scenes aren't morose. Like Platoon, this movie doesn't glamorize or demonize situations. A guy who sells weapons for a living meets some violent people in some violent places. The visual style is breathtaking . . .
What I like best is, no characters in the movie are "romanticized". There are no "good guys". One could make the case that there are no "bad guys" as well I suppose. There are people who do bad things for reasons you don't understand. There are people who do nothing when they should do something for reasons you don't understand. Its a pretty accurate depiction of real life :)
I think I might have rated the movie 8.5, if there were any other movies at all about this topic that were anywhere in its league. If you make a great "Legally Blond", that's nice. If you make a great movie about arms trading with a sold antihero and supporting characters, I figure you get "extra credit".
I think you're a fool if you miss this movie. Its not about Iraq. Its not particularly political. This movie could have been made under any president in the last 100 years and been just as accurate. Its not particularly anti-gun. Its just about this guy who sells guns.
On the other hand, don't take people to this movie if they can't handle violence or movies that aren't designed to make them "feel good" when they walk out. This is a good movie, its interesting, its intelligent, its important -- but its not Ferris Buellers Day Off or Spinal Tap.
Lord of War is about an arms dealer named Yuri Orlov who confronts the
morality of his work while being chased by an Interpol agent. This is a
very interesting film brought by director and writer of the film,
Andrew Niccol (Gattaca). This is another great film of his that will
boost up his career even more. Nicolas Cage puts up another great
performance of the year and although his acting is very ostentatious,
his narrating just like in The Weather Man, which came out a couple
months later, is perfect. The dialogue is very good and the script
couldn't be any better. Most of all, I clearly gave respect to Andrew
Niccol, because honestly, he deserves the most credit out of any one
who worked on the film. My hat goes off for him. Overall, great film of
2005 and I'll be paying more attention to Andrew Niccol's movies. I
highly recommend it.
Hedeen's Outlook: 8.5/10 ***+ B+
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