Lord of War

Mindless violence in action movies is a given. There are tons of guns, a million rounds of ammo, and lots of death. But where do the guns come from? Lord of War presents an answer to that question. The answer is Yuri Orlov (Nicholas Cage, National Treasure, Matchstick Men), the supplier to the entire world. There are two sides to this movie, and the inability to mesh the two sides together becomes somewhat frustrating, lessening the overall viewing experience.

The first part is the most interesting, and would probably make for a good documentary. Writer/director Andrew Niccol (S1m0ne, Gattaca) takes the viewer on a world tour with Orlov, giving a quick primer on how one can effectively and efficiently sells guns to all sides. Orlov buys weapons from fall empires like the Soviet Union, and cultivates worldwide contacts. He can get anything that his customers want, and runs his business with the utmost professionalism. War is good for business, because he can play both sides.

But when Niccol tries to create a story around the Orlov character, the movie suffers. The plot is not engaging, and neither is Cage. It begins with an introduction which lasts about half an hour. Niccol unnecessarily traces Orlov's entire life story. The movie goes from his childhood to his rapid ascent through the world of illegal arms sales. Fast forward to the present, where Orlov is happily married to Ava Fontaine (Bridget Moynahan, I, Robot, The Recruit), a mode/aspiring actress, and they have a young son. Fontaine does not ask questions about his work or where their wealth comes from. Orlov's brother Vitaly (Jared Leto, Alexander, Panic Room), who once worked with Orlov, is now a habitual drug user.

Orlov is coming to something of a mid-life crisis. He has successfully evaded Jack Valentine (Ethan Hawke, Assault on Precinct 13, Taking Lives), a government official who is out to get Orlov. Orlov's latest customer is Andre Baptiste (Eamonn Walker, Tears of the Sun, Unbreakable), the bloodthirsty warlord of a small African nation. Walker is the best thing about Lord of War. He is slimy, murderous, and highly charismatic, and brings a liveliness and sense of humor to an otherwise dreary film. He is much more interesting to watch then Cage, who is affecting a detached air. He is doing this because up to this point, Orlov had no conscience. Baptiste's actions are so extreme that it forces Orlov to take stock in his life and his profession. Valentine is getting closer, the world is getting more dangerous, and Fontaine is getting suspicious. While there is a lot of emotion inherent in this story, Cage and Niccol cannot bring it out. Orlov's fate elicits a big "who cares" a lot of the time.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
2 hours, 2 minutes, Rated R for strong violence, drug use, language, and sexuality.

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