Lord of War (2005)
Reviewed on 2011 March 15
Bone-dry film about a gun runner who sells to the highest bidder, enhanced with great dialogue and a great soundtrack.
Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage) is a Ukrainian-American who makes his fortune as an arms dealer, selling exotic weaponry to whomever can give him enough cash and making wry observations about life, the Soviet Union and the U.S., and the arms trade in general. The amoral Yuri has a soft spot for his little brother Vitaly (Jared Leto) and cash, and recruits the former to make more of the latter. Yuri isn’t completely soulless, because the toll the life takes on his brother affects him. When the Soviet Union disbands and takes its tentative steps towards capitalism, Yuri sees a goldmine and incurs new risks.
What makes this interesting is how devious (if not absolutely slimy) Yuri is, and yet Cage manages to keep me from hating him. Seriously, his work here atones for stuff like “Sorcerer’s Apprentice”. Leto does a good job as Yuri’s can’t-quite-get-it-together baby brother, and so does Bridget Moynahan as Ava, Yuri’s rich girl wife who initially lets the walnut-sized diamond ring on her hand distract her from asking too many questions. A great late-night movie, as long as you’re awake enough to take it all in, and would make an interesting double feature with Blow. The part where he hands out arms like cheese samples at the deli is one of a kind.
Three chocolate morsels. Extra credit for using the cool Flying Lizards version of “Money” on the soundtrack.