Directed by: Andrew Niccol
Premise: The career of a gun runner (Nicolas Cage) rises and falls when the cold war ends and he sells weapons to warlords in Africa.
What Works: Nicolas Cage is an inspired casting choice for Yuri, the Ukrainian born and American raised gunrunner, because of Cage’s ability to take reprehensible characters and make them likeable. The story covers a lot of ground both geographically and in the bulk of information presented about the gun running business. Lord of War is a very didactic film. It has a political agenda that is right on its sleeve, but in a way this helps make Lord of War a film of substance.
What Doesn’t: The ethos of the film cuts both ways. Certain scenes of the film are likely to alienate portions of the audience by their unabashed moralizing and the film’s final antiwar remark seems a bit out of place coming from the mouth the same character who has been selling weapons for his entire life. There is a voiceover throughout the entire picture, so much so that it feels like it surpasses the gross dialogue of all other characters combined.
Bottom Line: Lord of War is a fearless film that challenges its audience with a strong-minded message. The message does not overwhelm the drama, although at times it threatens to. The wit and energy of the film keeps the story alive and balances out the dramatic action and the bulk of expository information.
Episode: #68 (September 18, 2005)