Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Lord of War
Writer and Director Andrew Niccol's (The Terminal, S1m0ne, The Truman Show, Gattaca) Lord of War is about the international arms trade, and how a man (Nicholas Cage as Yuri, who is also the narrator) becomes fabulously wealthy through it, at the cost of his soul.
The opening sequence is a technological masterpiece, following the 'life' of a bullet through its manufacture to its final (grim) destination. Yuri matter-of-factly relates the fact that there is one firearm for every 12 people in the world, finishing with, "So the question is 'How do we arm the other eleven?'"
Yuri is from a hard-working Ukrainian family making an honest living in a run-down part of New York. As a young man he sees a Russian gangland execution, and has a 'moment of clarity' where he realises the way to escape the mundanity of hsi present existence, selling weapons.
After a shaky start, he discovers that he has a gift for his chosen profession, quick wits and the ability to talk his way out of difficult situations. His brother Vitaly (Jared Leto) is soon recruited as his accomplice, and the film begins to trace the subsequent 20 years of their lives - through the end of the Cold War to the advent of terrorist threats and dictatorships in third world countries.
Yuri is completely amoral. His only motive is profit, and the profits are clearly massive, because we quickly see him living in a penthouse Manhattan suite with a gorgeous wife (Bridget Moynahan) and a son.
Yuri does, of course, have a nemesis, Interpol Agent Jack Valentine (Ethan Hawke), but he continually escapes arrest through a mixture of luck, judgment and the fact that Valentine refuses to play by the same (lack of) rules that Yuri does!
Cage is excellent in this film, playing Yuri in such a way that we feel sympathy with him, while hating what he does. Leto is better at being cute (Sky and Cyan thought he was gorgeous) than he is at being convincing as Yuri's brother. Bridget Moynahan is quietly convincing as the trophy wife who lives in denial until the awful truth of her husband's profession is made clear.
Lord of War is a cleverly written portrayal of a world that few of us know much about. Not a 'feel-good' film, but definitely worth a watch, especially if you enjoy films that make you think.It is not difficult to see why Amnesty International chose to put a trailer for their 'Control Arms' campaign at the beginning.