Lord of War

Bomb Rating: 

It seems to me that director Andrew Niccol wants to deliver a message more than he wants to tell a story.

It seems to me that director Andrew Niccol wants to deliver a message more than he wants to tell a story in "Lord of War," which results in a movie that's like reading a fact-filled, but ultimately exhaustive and dull editorial on the evils gun-running.

This should save a lot of people a lot of time: Supplying warring people around the world with guns is bad. Furthermore, while people kill people, Niccol tries hard to make the argument that guns almost kill people by themselves. Killing people is bad. Guns are bad. Put a gun in the hand of some warring African tribesman and it's pretty certain that somebody is going to die. Dying is bad.

Unfortunately, Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage) makes his living selling guns around the world. War is good. Peace is bad. Yuri hooks up with a military relative in the Ukraine and becomes wildly successful selling off the Soviet Union's old AK-47s in Africa, primarily to Andre Baptiste, Sr. (Eamonn Walker). The profits from the sales give Yuri virtually everything he wants in life. He's so rich that he's able to convince his dream girl, Ava Fontaine (Bridget Moynahan), to marry him, because she's gorgeous, a model, and obviously a money-sucking harpy. This makes it rather hard to give a shit when, toward the end, she figures out what Yuri is doing and runs away in some kind of righteous fit.

Yuri conducts his business at the expense of his soul. He argues that he doesn't shoot the guns so bears no responsibility for what occurs with them. He has a few sequences with a competitor, Simeon Weisz (Ian Holm), who's supposed to be a superior person because Simeon only arms causes he believes in whereas Yuri just arms everyone. How exactly this was a meaningful distinction between the two, I don't know. Yuri involves his brother, Vitaly (Jared Leto). Niccol uses Vitaly to symbolize Yuri's soul and since Yuri loses his soul, he loses Vitaly at some point too. Then there's Jack Valentine (Ethan Hawke), an Interpol agent who chases Yuri around but is never able to pin anything on him.

While "Lord of War" would have been even worse with a happy ending, it still doesn't have any kind of arc. Consequently, the film never feels like it goes anywhere. It's one of those political movies that thinks it's smarter than it actually is, which means that Niccol probably thinks he's smarter than he actually is.

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