LORD OF WAR launched a wit-propelled attack on the curse of international arms merchants, the plague of death-dealers that fueled multiple causes, characters and crises after the Soviet Union’s fall spewed a cascade of stockpiled weaponry onto the conflict-ripe globe. Below the big gun action fantasies that dominated the box-office in 2005 were a good number of high-quality films that actually made stabs at relevant social & political issues, and this dead-on-target, savagely funny, handsomely crafted indictment barrage is one of the best. *
“They say, “Evil prevails when good men fail to act.” What they ought to say is, “Evil prevails.”
With the coldly practical logic of deadpan lunacy, Nicolas Cage plays Ukrainian-American hustler ‘Yuri Orlov’. Yuri deftly moves up the kill-chain from hawking Uzi’s to mobsters in New York City’s Brighton Beach/”Little Odessa” to supplying heavy hardware for assorted militias abroad, and engaging with maniacal dictators like ‘Andre Babtiste’ of Liberia (Eamonn Walker, relishing craziness, playing a version of that country’s horrid Charles Taylor). Gorgeous trophy-wife (Bridget Moynahan) is kept in the dark, coked-out brother (Jared Leto, excellent) is a continual handful, and an icy Big-Boy competitor (Ian Holm) plays for keeps. Dogging Orlov’s tail of woe is a principled Interpol agent (Ethan Hawke, on boil).
“After the Cold War, the AK-47 became Russia’s biggest export. After that came vodka, caviar, and suicidal novelists.”
Cage’s crafty Orlov was an amalgamation of five real-life bastards, including the infamous Viktor Bout. South Africa doubled for most of the locales depicted (Sierra Leone, Liberia, Afghanistan, Colombia, Ecuador, etc.) and the Czech Republic was handy for the scene with that array of 60 tanks (which were about to be sold—to the late Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya). The superb cinematography credits Amir Mokri. The actors are all good, high-gloss polish is evident in every technical detail, but from the ingenious opener to the properly fatalistic close the greatest credit goes to director Andrew Niccol, who also wrote the blistering screenplay.
” The reason I’ll be released is the same reason you think I’ll be convicted. I do rub shoulders with some of the most vile, sadistic men calling themselves leaders today. But some of these men are the enemies of your enemies. And while the biggest arms dealer in the world is your boss – the President of the United States, who ships more merchandise in a day than I do in a year – sometimes it’s embarrassing to have his fingerprints on the guns.”
Riddling 122 minutes, it was chambered for $50,000,000, locked solid reviews, but only loaded $72,600,000.
With Sammi Rotibi, Eugene Lazarev and Nalu Tripician. Kept to the shadows, several bit players stand in for and Donald Sutherland voices a too-capable, too-culpable US military swine, ‘Col. Oliver Southern’, whose properly unwelcome presence fills in the blanks for real-life US military swine/traitor/Fox News jackoff Col. Oliver North. Lest we forget, to the Viktor, go the spoiled: without mercy, breath is taken by Liya Kebedi, Jasmine Burgess, Debbie Jones, Larissa Bond, Tanya Finch… “There are two types of tragedies in life. One is not getting what you want, the other is getting it.”
* Joining the political cinefray in ’05: The Constant Gardener, Munich, Good Night And Good Luck, The Interpreter, Syriana, plus the epic Kingdom Of Heaven took a long term historical view. Meanwhile homegrown social vex invited Crash, Capote, Brokeback Mountain, Transamerica and North Country.