Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
|Featuring||Nicolas Cage, Jared Leto, Bridget Moynahan, Ian Holm, Eamonn Walker|
|Producer||Philippe Rousselet, Andrew Niccol, Nicolas Cage|
|Distributor||Lions Gate Films|
He sells guns… and he’s making a killing. / First rule of gunrunning: never get shot with your own merchandise.”
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “A wily arms dealer dodges bullets and betrayal as he schemes his way to the top of his profession, only to come face to face with his conscience. But it’s not easy to leave a life of girls, guns and glamour when nobody wants you to stop, not even your enemies.”
After spending over two hours with the “Lord of War” it caused me to appreciate all of the wonderful things that have been given to us by the Lord of Life. These positive thoughts were not directly inspired by what I saw in the film, but surfaced as a reaction in order to counter the sadism and evil presented throughout the story. After being overloaded with such hostility, some kind of recovery was needed to bring hope back into my mind.
Ukrainian immigrant Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage) moved with his family to “Little Odessa” in Brooklyn, New York when he was six years old. Growing up with no vision or direction, one day Yuri witnesses a gun shoot out in a restaurant and suddenly becomes interested in firearms. Yuri has now found his passion for life and he not only begins to sell guns, but also establishes himself as one of the premier suppliers of firearms in almost all of the war torn areas of the world. Yuri is shown to be human in many ways, but becomes more of a machine than any of the weapons he sells.
Probably every reason a movie is rated R is present in this film. There is a fair amount of foul language, including the f-word, as well as instances of violence and sex. Since the movie revolves around gun selling, it is correct to predict that they are used—and used on people. Some of these moments are very explicit and bloody. Also explicit are some of the sex scenes, as well as some scenes that involve nudity. Furthermore, there are a handful of scenes depicting characters using narcotics, particularly moments when characters are snorting cocaine.
One redeeming scene shows Yuri in a hotel room after he has just made a deal with African warlord Andre Baptiste Sr. (Eamonn Walker). In his room are two women who have been given to Yuri as a gift, and they are dancing very seductively. It’s obvious Yuri can have his way with them, but even though he is tempted, he refuses their offer. Yuri says he can’t, and we can infer it is because he has recently married his Dream Girl, Ava Fontaine (Bridget Moynahan). Unfortunately, while Yuri has this moment of fidelity, it is unfortunate to not see that this is something consistent with his character.
Speaking of Yuri’s character, the most challenging part to watching this film is that fact that you have to spend two hours with an unsympathetic character. Aside from the aforementioned scene where he avoids temptation, Yuri is not a likeable guy. He lies to win Ava. He loves guns and does not care how the guns he sells will be used. He also fails to realize how detrimental he is to his family. He justifies everything he does, but none of his reasoning really excuses his immoral behavior. There are good characters throughout the film, but they are predominantly sideline characters that only appear from time to time. We don’t spend nearly as much time with them like we do with the warlord Yuri.
Having an unsympathetic character isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. It can be good to be challenged through this kind of storytelling. However, there is something else about this film that does not sit right with me. While the movie boasts at the end that it is “based on real events” so much of the movie did not ring true. I felt seduced into thinking it was a good movie, when after evaluating the movie, it was really good production value more than anything else. Many common movie conventions are used, and a lot of scenes played out very predictably. For instance, watching Yuri recruit his brother Vitaly (Jared Leto) for “one more job” after Vitaly has gotten his act together was a huge indicator of the coming tragedy. And Yuri meeting Ava and how he wins her was just too far fetched to even enjoy.
It is hard to know exactly behind making a movie like this. It seems it could be highly charged with a political agenda, and for that reason has skewed the entertainment value. And it is fine to be challenged, but not in such a conventional way. For this reviewer, I cannot see much reason to spend time watching this one.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/nudity: Heavy