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.
Lord of War
Action / Crime / Drama / Thriller
Lord of War
Action / Crime / Drama / Thriller
This film charts the rise and fall of Yuri Orlov, from his early days in the early 1980s in Little Odessa, selling guns to mobsters in his local neighbourhood, through to his ascension through the decade of excess and indulgence into the early 90s, where he forms a business partnership with an African warlord and his psychotic son. The film also charts his relationship through the years with his younger brother, his marriage to a famous model, his relentless pursuit by a determined federal agent and his inner demons that sway between his drive for success and the immorality of what he does.
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October 01, 2012 at 07:22 PM