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Lord of War

DVD One Star
I always wanted to see this film as the story of a gun trafficker and how he views himself, his trade and the world around him. Except it had one worrying factor for me, Nicolas Cage. I've not enjoyed his films for quite some time and I expected him to be over the top and the film to be him throwing his arms around and giving us those big manic stares.

I was surprised though, it wasn't like that, Cage acts quite well, but this film is let down in other areas.

LordofWar.jpgThe FilmThe film looks at the life of Yuri Orlov as he rises to the heady heights of the best gun runner around, how he begins on this dark road, and how he builds his career. It also looks at the three main relationships in his life, his brother, his wife and his nemesis, the agent who is out to finally nail him for his crimes. We follow Orlov through some of the biggest deals of his career and the key moments, both good and bad.

Cage is surprisingly good in the film, he's more restrained than his usual characters and gives us a little more depth to his performance, but there's a problem with his character. In fact there's a problem with most of the characters in the film, you just can't get near them emotionally and make any connection with them, and so you end up just watching the story wash over you and pass you by.

This is a real shame because you can see the potential in some of these characters and scenes and they do look so great, but because the characters are so far removed from the audience it's difficult to get into them other than just watching them on screen.

Cinematography is good in the film, and some shots are extremely well framed and sequences visualised, and for me this is where the one star is gained.

The actual story itself is quite weak, apart from seeing the characters built to the point they need to be in the story, there's nothing else that really happens. So the characters are built up, then they're shown in the depths of the holes they've had dug for them or by them, and then they fall or move on. The excitement and passion I've invested in that last statement is basically how you feel about the film, because you haven't become involved with the characters, you don't actually care for them.

It also keeps playing on the same idea throughout repeating again and again the different views of gun running, and with only two views really shown it does start to get a little boring and repetitive. It never really explores these views, or the story, deeper than the surface sheen.

What makes it more annoying is that there are a couple of great talents in the fil that are totally underused, Ethan Hawke and Jared Leto, although Leto does get some more room than Hawke for acting, it still feels they are just helping the lead character to display certain traits rather than really getting involved.

Overall I found it an interesting tale which could have been so good, it just ended up being a real struggle to get through and becoming uninteresting. Perhaps a better cut would have made it feel a lot better. Still, there are some great scenes to look at, but nothing to really engage you.


PicturePresented: 1.85:1
The picture was strong with good cinematography, bold colours and a sharp picture that holds up well. It does look very cinematic.


AudioPresented: Dolby Digital 2.0, 5.1
The sound was well delivered and the shooting and other action scenes delivered a great sounding punch. These scenes sounded very real and the soundtrack added a lot to the non-dialogue scenes.


ExtrasPresented: Audio Commentary with director Andrew Niccol
The Audio Commentary provided a lot of interesting information about the film and the real gun trade, but the director's voice is quite monotone to listen to for the length of the film, he doesn't really convey the feeling of excitement or belief in the material we're watching. It does drag the commentary out and if you didn't enjoy the film first time through then you are probably not going to get through this.


UK IMDB Film Details





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Comments

Thanks Rich. I can now take it off my rental queue.

I've never left a movie in the middle, but I must admit I considered it a few times during this one. Nevertheless, I think there was a payoff in the political and moral commentaries toward the end. Without giving too much away, Cage's conversation with Hawke caught me a bit off guard as did some of the circumstances and decisions that followed.

With respect to your comment on the characters and getting close to them, I think that was intentional. I think we were supposed to despise the main characters. If we weren't supposed to despise them, the filmakers royally screwed up and 1 out of 5 is too much.

Anyway, this isn't entertainment so much as it is experience. As an experience, I'd mark it a bit higher than 1 star.

Wow. I thought Lord of War was a fantastic film. It was controversial (the opening shot alone people!), put up some interesting ideas on screen in a compelling way, and told a pretty solid story in the process.

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