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Just Evil Prevails
Jon Ochiai1 October 2005
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 destination—so 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 years—through 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 become—the 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.
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Bite the bullet: Guns HAVE changed politics more than votes...
J.D. Corcoran5 October 2005
Warning: 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.
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story-telling perfection
leilapostgrad18 September 2005
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."
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Just An Incredibly Well Made Film
gogoschka-111 February 2018
Apart from the very serious topic, this is just an incredibly well made film. There are many scenes in this movie which stay with you long after the credits have rolled, the darkly funny ones as well as the truly horrific ones, and to me this is something only the best movies ever achieve. Intelligent and stylish: this is one of very few so called "films with a message" that I can watch again and again, because it's so cleverly constructed and so beautifully shot and acted. A personal favorite, 10 stars out of 10.

Favorite films: IMDb.com/list/mkjOKvqlSBs/

Lesser-Known Masterpieces: imdb.com/list/ls070242495/
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The Truth About Guns & Wars
sirjonxo16 September 2005
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 war.

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)
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Another powerful well-made political drama with an excellent story and a powerful performance by Nicolas Cage
MovieManMenzel16 September 2005
"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.
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A Surprising Morality Tale
wahzoh9 October 2005
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.
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Lord of war: Great film seeming to receive bad reviews by dense critics
Skott Jacobson (Silenttool)17 September 2005
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.
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Lord of War is the Lord of Movies this year.
Lucas Ellis20 September 2005
Yuri Orlov(Nicolas Cage) tells his humorous, disturbing, and tragic story of coming from nothing to becoming the greatest gun-runner in the world.

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.
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A Testament To Good Storytelling
Calum Rhys26 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
'Lord of War' is a film that displays a vivid and detailed account into the criminal mind of an arms dealer played vigorously by Nicolas Cage as he confronts the morality of his work. An impressive and unbiased look at the arms trade that exhibits storytelling at it's finest, written perfectly by Oscar-nominated writer-director, Andrew Niccol. As a matter of opinion, the most impressive part of the film happens in the first five minutes, as the audience follows the lifespan of a single bullet to the folk vibe of Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth", an extremely well-crafted introduction that immediately garners the attention of its viewers. Whilst the story is unnecessary, it provides the audience with a dark and partially satirical look into the deadly trade of gunrunning and acts as a testament to good storytelling and impressive acting ability.
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Interesting film by a new starter, Andrew Niccol
OriginalMovieBuff2114 February 2006
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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Great Movie -- Similar to "The Godfather"
opencad216 September 2005
This was a great movie. Cage delivered on the "anti-hero" - a 21st century "Corleone".

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.
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Leaves you cold, but then maybe it ought to....
Daniel Marrin2 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I have been running "Lord of War" through my head; cinematically, it promises to be a more interesting film than it ends up being. The first shot of the path of the bullet from start to bloody finish promises a stark look at the gun-running industry, and to a degree, there is some truth to it. However, I also wonder how much of the film is Hollywoodized. I kept on thinking that it felt like a Hollywood story of corrupt power like that of Tony Montana or Johnny Depp in "Blow."

The strange thing about Cage's character is perhaps that he doesn't want to be a "warlord;" he doesn't want an empire. He wants to be a great provider for his wife and family; tragically, he's more in love with his product than any human being. Leto does an awesome job as Cage's brother, Natali, a man who is as loving as he is insecure.

The film is extremely well-written, and Cage does a great job of portraying his character sympathetically though certainly morally bankrupt. You do begin rooting for this guy to get away (well, at least I did) with his crimes.

I wish I had walked out of the film with a greater sense of anger or passion about preventing gun violence: instead, I walked out feeling I had been hit with a cynical, bitter look at gun violence that didn't motivate me at all.

There's a monologue I once read in college that talked about how "the hand was made for the gun," and not the other way around. I suppose if the film had delved more into our natural tendency towards gun violence and less towards the morality of selling arms, it might have delivered a stronger punch for me.
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A 'Stylish" Look At Arms Dealing
ccthemovieman-131 August 2007
This was a very pleasant surprise, far better than I had ever hoped, filled with fabulous cinematography and riveting story about the life of arms dealer during the 1980s and '90s.

It was an interesting film, to say the least, and Nicholas Cage was terrific as the lead character, "Yuri Orlov." I loved his narration, too. How much of what he said is true, I have no idea, but it's fascinating stuff. Don't believe a lot of it, even when they tell you it is "based" on true events. Most of still can (and usually) is made up for dramatic purposes.

I felt those visuals, combined with the outstanding acting and always-interesting story made this a good film. It also proved you don't need action every two minutes to keep a film involving for the audience. This has just the right amount of drama, suspense, action, romance and, yes, even humor.

With all the political comments made here in the narration I was wondering if I was going to hear the typical Democrat whine and sure enough, late in the film a comment is made regarding the 2000 elections. The liberals still can't get over losing, fair and square. They just can't accept that. This is about the fifth time I've heard this in 2007 films although at least time, the guy making the absurd statement was the Liberian dictator.....but it really was the film maker, of course. Despite that, and the very pessimistic storyline that evil always wins in the world. According to Bible of "Yuri," in the end, the meek won't inherit the earth; the arms dealers will and that evil rules, so why fight it and yourself over it. Wow, what uplifting words to live by.

Outside of Yuri's wife "Ava" (Bridget Moynahan) and the man who pursues him, "Jack Valentine" (Ethan Hawke) no one in here has much in the way of high-ground morals. At least they made the lawman an honest; that's rare in films today.

Jared Leto plays Cage's brother "Vitaly" and plays his standard slime-ball character. Wow, this guy is becoming the male Jennifer Jason Leigh, regarding sleazy roles. Everyone was solid in here, from the Americans to the Russians the Africans....and all intriguing people. Ian Holm as rival arms dealer "Simeon Weisz" deserves mention.

Amir Mokri is the cinematographer and Andrew Niccol, the director, who combined to make this movie look so stylish and beautiful to see. Looking at Mokri's resume, I see he's done a number of stylish films. Niccol hasn't directed much but what he has also offers interesting visuals.

Looking at the front and back cover of the DVD might make you think this is just another of these brainless action flicks, but it is not. This is solid film.
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How to Arm the Other Eleven?
Claudio Carvalho15 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In the 80s in Little Odessa, the Ukrainian immigrant Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage) decides to change his economical life and becomes an arm dealer with his brother Vitaly Orlov (Jared Leto). His business of gunrunner supplying illegal weapons in disturbed areas of the planet increases with the end of the Cold War, and Yuri bribes a Russian general to sell most of his arsenal. Meanwhile, he becomes a millionaire and uses his money to seduce the beautiful Ava Fontaine (Bridget Moynahan) and they get married, having a son. The detective Jack Valentine (Ethan Hawke) chases Yuri trying to put him in jail, but in the end he understands that Yuri is a necessary evil for the interest of his nation.

"Lord of War" is a provoking and stylish movie with great performance of Nicolas Cage. The original screenplay has one of the best introductions I have ever seen, following a bullet from the production line in the factory to the forehead of a victim. The cynical speech of Yuri to Valentine in the end of the story recalled me Al Pacino in "The Devil's Advocate" or in "City Hall". The final message exposing that the greatest arm dealers in the world, USA, UK, Russia, France and China, are members of the UN Security Council ends this movie with golden key. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "O Senhor das Armas" ("The Lord of Arm")
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A half exploited opportunity
mf97628 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
If this movie was three hours long and had a few more secondary characters it would have been the greatest movie of the decade. The story is a capturing tragedy, there are some brilliant ideas (the opening scene, the father pretending to be Jewish, the one night disappearing of the cargo, the lined up tanks shoot, Orlov's being a patron of the arts, the gasp after the encounter with the two prostitutes), the director had already showed his skills in setting up detailed and visually perfect representations (Gattaca), actors fit, lines are sharp, there's humor, but the whole thing looks like Niccol was in a hurry. And, maybe, a little too naive. Since when millionaire illegal arm dealers cruise all over the world without twenty fierce bodyguards? And, correct me if I'm wrong, Interpol has so many men, equipments and dollars at its disposal? Anyway, does it actually exist? And do lovely parents like those arrive at their son's marriage party after all the others? Weren't they at church? And what a coincidence having an uncle who is a colonel in the soviet army! And can a white guy in a suit survive more than five minutes alone in an African slum at night? And that blonde child! Didn't really Yuri suspect at all about his wife's loyalty? Too many shortcuts, imprecisions and anachronisms (for God's sake, couldn't they provide appropriate clothes for the seventies at least?). It's no big deal, all right, but they are distractions, they are the same of grammar mistakes in a book: they break your imagination and make you say -Hey, it's not real, I'm only watching a movie!- And that's the most anti movie thing that you can find in a movie. Worse if the movie is good.
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phiggins12 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Lord of War, for all its radical and anti-establishment trappings, is about as comforting and safe a movie as you could possibly imagine. Its banal, elementary messages can be summed up as: Guns are bad. People who trade in them are bad. Many parts of Africa are messed-up. Nicolas Cage is wearing a hair piece. In an ever-decreasing circle of asinine clichés that would insult the intelligence of a seven-year-old child, Lord of War takes us into the terrible and frightening world of international gun-running. Cage plays an international gun-runner with weird hair and an indeterminate accent. He will sell to anyone, anywhere, as long as they cough up the cash. And what a lot of cash that turns out to be. He lives the high-life. He has everything: a loser little brother, a gorgeous but frustrated wife, stereotype parents, persistent FBI guy on his trail, the works. Keen-eyed viewers may well spot parallels between this film and Goodfellas. And Blow. And no doubt one or two other movies. In other words, we've seen it all before, and done a lot better. Andrew Niccol, the hack who gave Gattaca and Simone to a grateful public, may think he's dealing with heavy moral issues and opening our eyes to the way the world really is. In fact, all he's doing is dressing up a predictable "rise-and-fall" story with a bit of student politics. But no amount of moralising and politicising can disguise the total obviousness and predictability of the whole enterprise. At one point, Cage's wife, an aspiring but not over-talented painter sells her first painting. Guess who bought it? Then, Cage's brother, a drug-addled loser, gets clean, gets a girl-friend and states that his life is getting better all the time. Guess what happens to him? Later, Cage's uncle tells him how great everything is and then walks off to get into his car. Guess what happens then? And so on. Instead of being surprised by the movie, the audience is always at least one, if not fifteen steps ahead of it. The cast includes Ian Holm, Ethan Hawke, Eamonn Walker and Jared Leto (we name the guilty men!). These are all talented and intelligent performers, which only makes you wonder what on earth they are doing involved in this mess. As for Bridget Moynahan, let's just say she is well cast as a model who wants to get into acting but doesn't have the talent.
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Jarring but kitsch, not conventional Hollywood, but not a great movie; good role for Cage
Chris Knipp26 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This portrait of a big time arms dealer of Ukrainian origin, Yuri Orlov, starring Nicolas Cage (whose performance holds your attention throughout), has many schlocky Hollylwood elements, such as Yuri's druggie brother Vitaly (Jared Leto) and his trophy wife (Bridget Moynahan), his numerous sexy conquests along the way to megawealth, his "friendship" with the dramatic president of Liberia (Eamonn Walker), and the ridiculously relentless and steely Interpol agent who pursues him (Ethan Hawke). All these are colorful exhibits rather then people. The slickness of the decor and cinematography impress pointlessly. Cage's narration is full of tendentious declarations, like "The problem with dating dream girls is that they have a tendency to become real." Or "I would tell you to go to hell, but I think you're already there." Some of the zingers fall flat or are just obvious, like "I sell to leftists, and I sell to rightists. I even sell to pacifists, but they're not the most regular customers," or "There are two types of tragedies in life. One is not getting what you want, the other is getting it. " There is more than enough of that, and you have to be pretty easily impressed to like it. The movie also sometimes revels in the evils it depicts. But it includes some significant home truths about world politics like the fact that the world's biggest arms dealers are the US, UK, France, Russia, and China, and they are also the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Some of the cynicism in this movie is pretty strong stuff. It certainly doesn't lull you.
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Tries hard, but doesn't really make it's point (MILD SPOILER)
mstomaso10 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A good cast, decent directing and good editing do not make up for a lack of content. This is especially so in the case of a film which pretends to educate about a very serious subject - such as the arms trade. And even more so when said film claims to be based on actual events.

Whatever actual events were sewn together to create Lord of War, their 'actuality' did little to help me suspend my disbelief. The nearly constant voice-over narration didn't help either. Like many other Andy Niccol films, Lord of War has an odd humor which seems to dwell just below the surface, but unlike The Truman Show, S1m0ne and the brilliant Gattaca, it does not work with the very serious and deadly themes in this film. Niccol has done some brilliant and near-brilliant work, but Lords of War is, IMO, his weakest effort thus far.

In Lords of War, Nicholas Cage plays Yuri - a completely merciless gun-runner, Jared Leto plays his cokehead brother, Ethan Hawke plays an Interpol Agent (why does Hollywood perpetuate this myth????) pursuing him, and Bridget Moynahan plays his completely in-the-dark wife. Cage is fairly convincing, but the script creates problems for his role. Leto and Hawke are outstanding.

The film chronicles Yuri's rise to power and the fulfillment of many of his dreams, falling victim to many clichés along the way, before yielding to an enormous cliché in the end.

While the film certainly spends a lot of time examining how guns are moved about illegally from place to place (and most of the scenarios are highly improbable), it really fails to make any profound points or provide any deep insight into the busine$$ of war. Anybody interested in seeing the film is very likely to know most of what this film tries to teach before they walk into the theater. It is difficult to imagine the film doing anything but preaching to its own choir.

So, if you think the business of selling arms is morally corrupt, and are entertained by seeing your own views illustrated in an exaggerated, propoagandistic and highly unrealistic manner, with a lot of voice-over in place of coherent visual narrative, then this might just be the film for you. O/W I can only recommend it for fans of the principal cast, whose performances outshine the story and the roles they were given.
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The mystery of the masses
BenAordure27 November 2010
It begins with a serious long speech of Nicolas Cage about a awful reality we all ignored until this day. And all of a sudden you understand you have done the wrong choice at the video club ...

Our lovely Nico (yes lovely because he also did some great movies like "Living Las Vegas" or "Matchstick Men ") strayed again into a super-awful movie as bad as "Gone in 60 seconds " ...

The movie does not pretend less than reveal to the world all you imagined about the secret world of weapons trafficking in every details..

Within two hours you'll learn that Africans are really stupid people, that Russians are corrupted, that Europeans are vicious and that Americans are very nice ... You will also learn that you can traffic army vehicles, nuclear weapon and get away easily of the police by quickly painting a new name on your boat ..

Everything ! You will be revealed everything ! No honestly, this movie just look like an unserious demagogic low-cost TV documentary ..

And I won't go into details about the hero's father who pretends to be Jewish (??), about the mannequin seduced in two seconds like chosen in a catalog or about the Africans who steal all the pieces of a big plane in just two minutes.. There would be too much to say !

I just wonder if the scenarist is once gone out of his office before writing the story ! Perfectly ridiculous !

The first scene sums up the whole film by itself.

Why am I so criticizing this bad movie more than with other bad movies ? It is because I just don't understand why press and reviews are so comprehensive with this movie which is so pretentious, so ridiculous, and storyboarded as if was written on the corner of a café-table.

How Andrew Niccol, the director of the so fantastic and almost perfect "Gattaca" could create such an awful movie ?? I just can't understand.
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Important, brilliant, disgusting
A_Ziegler28 November 2005
You know how when you watch a regular American action movie and you think that the morals of the hero are stupid? Sometimes you even wish that the "bad guy" would win. Well, this movie meets half way. The main character, Yuri Orlov, is not a nice guy. He is an arms dealer who deals weapons illegally to war lords. As a matter of fact he IS the "bad guy" in the movie. Not the BADDEST guy. The real bad guys are, of course, the warlords(the warlord in Liberia is particularly nasty). You don't see much of the good guy in this movie. Anyway, the good guys name is Jack Valentine. His mission in life is to stop guys like Yuri. The best and most realistic aspect of this movie is that no one wins. I'm not going to offer any spoilers. Let's just leave it at that. In a way, you can say that the bad guy wins. But he is a REALLy bad guy; you don't want people like that winning anything. After seeing the movie I realized that it's probably one of the most important movies of the year. The movie disgusted me. Why? Because it is, as it says in the closing credits "based on actual events".
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No-one seems to age
bombelliott20 February 2006
A very enjoyable way to pass a couple of hours although over the space of twenty screen years nobody seems to age. The cinematography is fantastic,especially in Africa(some great open landscapes). The most jarring thing for me was a couple of (you can see them coming from a mile away)VERY obvious deaths. The first five minutes are superb, a mini-movie that could be called 'The life of a Bullet'. The soundtrack is also superior to your usual Hollywood movie. Strangely Nicholas Cage should be the 'Bad Guy' but isn't portrayed as such.By the same token Ethan Hawke is a fairly unsympathetic 'good guy'. And are they really his teeth?
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Does evil prevail? If people actually enjoyed this film, then probably the answer is yes...
powerfull_jedi16 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Why does this movie fail? Here's why: because it's ultimately superficial and you can't connect with the characters at all. Lord of War is about a Ukrainian man(Nicolas Cage) living in the US, who decides to become a gun smuggler after witnessing a heist and he also tries to win the love of his live, who is a talentless actress, in the process(I'm not making this up, honest). He starts small time(don't ask me how) with second hand guns and also invites his drug-addicted «brother» along, but being a gun smuggler doesn't sound easy. The movie chronicles his rise to becoming a gun smuggler and several encounters with buyers and occasionally trying to outmaneuver an Interpol agent in some of the most bizarre sequences I've ever seen. All through the movie, Nicolas Cage provides the voice over to the whole movie and I seriously wished he didn't. Obviously it's about gun smuggling and the movie tries to draw well-though(not really) ironies about this particular market and, as it's becoming more and more common, the role of the US in all of this(the United States of America as the root of all the problems in the world,of course, what do you expect?). It reminds me of Crash for the very same aspect: like racism, it thinks it's saying something new and revealing some overwhelming truth about gun smuggling. The movie pretends to be deep but it's message is nothing more complex then: Guns are bad; only innocent people get shot or are affected by the market(we all know this is true***sarcasm***);both legal gun sellers and black market dealers are evil(though the movie never explains this); owning guns automatically turns you into a crazy murderer(who needs facts? The scriptwriters think it's enough to show a struggling African country to make their point) ; if we didn't have any guns, people wouldn't kill each other(yes, true and deep); oh, and the US uses a corrupt court to fix the elections(I seriously laughed my butt off when they mentioned this in the movie) and is entirely responsible for everything mentioned above. Let's start with the characters, Nicolas Cage plays a Ukrainian gun smuggler who looks nothing like an Ukrainian, doesn't act like one and doesn't talk like one, not to mention he was a lifeless character, and his rants and monologue just drag the film and bores you to death. Jared Leto does no better and both act as if they're acquaintances rather then brothers or at least not any brothers I know of. The actress who plays Yuri's wife just stalls and the biggest offender is Ethan Hawke, the Interpol agent who has a «deep» sense of morality and wants to stop Yuri(Cage) at all cost, too bad he's barely a character, and his sense of morality is about as deep as a puddle of water,especially in moments where he could have given a lesson of morality to Yuri, he spills out something that seems more appropriate to cheesy action movies then a though-provoking thriller like this. In short you will feel no sympathy for any of the characters nor will you connect with them. If you already hate guns and will buy anything to support the cause,you'll like it, everybody else won't be convinced. One last thing:having the words "based on true events" in a fictional movie means absolutely nothing...
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Bad action movie with pretensions
pemeja16 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is a seemingly committed movie that, at first glance, has good intentions and pretends to say a lot; however, in the end, it is a flat and profoundly dishonest crowd-pleaser for action-movie goers, who might like guns, this (alas!) necessary evil, but who also have a nice bleeding heart…for arms dealers.

The Lord of War is Yuri an American of Ukrainian descent that decides to escape the bleak looking prospects of a life in Little Odessa for a lucrative business: arms dealing. Niccol tells all the Trivial Pursuit information concerning arms dealing through the cynical and tireless main protagonist's off voice, or through any of the nice characters that happen to be there when Niccol feels like being engagé and transcendent. His indignation seems sincere but he had trouble canalizing it in a story. Once we know the "facts" (startling if you have never opened a newspaper), he can focus on the story, or rather on the action. The movie wants so much to follow the different conflicts of the last twenty years that it races through diverse exotic locations and leaves little time to tell us a story and something about the characters. Yuri tells us his lucid view on the greed and cruelty that rule the world, on the ambiguity and ambivalence of international relations and armed conflicts, and yet, the characters that surround him in the story are the fairytale one-dimensional loving parents, wife, brother, kid and even an Ukranian general. All the characters are flat and embarrassingly cliché: the emigrants to the US are nice people with accent, the Russian mob is crazy, Ukranian generals are drunkards, but good-hearted, the beautiful girl, naïve and angelical, the Interpol agent, innocent and idealistic, and Africans are very bad or very good depending on whether they have guns or not. Curiously, only the Liberian dictator seems real. The weakest character is Yuri himself. His motivation to go into the dirty business remains obscure. Paradoxically, he is a bland and passive character, who seems to have entered the risky trade by chance, and who can change jobs overnight, when his wife manifests a much delayed indignation. It can be argued that since it is Yuri that tells his own story, he is seeking the audience's sympathy. But he tries too hard, and we cannot help thinking that he does so with the connivance of Niccol. We are shown a likable character, not because an aseptic Niccol wants to look as lucid and cynical as his protagonist, but because, in the end, Niccol like Yuri wants to please too many people. By leaving the story in the hands of his protagonist, he can appeal to a very demanding and highly ironic and smart public as well as to a wider male audience of American action-movie goers who, like Yuri, like guns, hot dumb chicks and subtle displays of humour and profound international knowledge about Russian cars and suicidal novelists, Aids in Africa, cocaine in South America…. There is an unresolved contrast between the discourse and the story, between what the movie courageously says and what it cowardly shows. One scene epitomizes the movie fundamental dishonesty: when Yuri's plane loaded with arms lands on an African road full of people, not a single crushed body is shown, only a little baby miraculously saved as the huge wheel of the plane stops in front of him. In the end, the movie tells a story that we have seen a thousand times, and more harshly told, about the double life of a mobster with a dirty job but with a nice loving family. "Lord of War" is nothing more than a bad action movie with pretensions. The worst part is that ultimately it leaves us, the intended Western audience of pampered pop corn gobblers who have never (but seem to wish they had) smelled the nice perfume of napalm in the morning, with the same complacent and cynical attitude of the protagonist towards violence, gun trafficking and world-wide corruption.
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Stylized oversimplification of arms dealing...
a r24 November 2010
...mixed in with some leftist propaganda all rolled up into a B grade gangster flick. There's really nothing else to say but there is a 10 line minimum to these reviews:

Cage starts out selling uzis to local gangsters and works his way up to selling helicopters to dictators. Along the way a few people get shot and some stuff blows up. Also: hookers and blow.

All of the fun stuff ends up taking a back seat to the real purpose of the film: to educate you on how slimy capitalists exploit third world countries and perpetuate violence.

I happen to agree with the message, but this is a horrible way of conveying it. It's totally oversimplified and very obviously biased. It may have been intended to open peoples eyes to the way the world really works but I found it hard to keep mine open.

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