April 19th: What is it good for?


89. Lord of War (Andrew Niccol, 2005)

Lord of War has a superb opening credit sequence showing the life of a bullet from being made to being fired. It’s a grandstand opening to tell the story of Yuri Orlov, a Ukrainian born American whose life takes off when he starts dealing in arms. He starts with small time stuff before working his way up through the ranks internationally. Soon Yuri is on top of the trade but how long he stays there is down to his ability to avoid the authorities, keep it suitably secret from his wife and family and reconciling the trade with his own inner demons. Nicolas Cage has been in the wild since the late 90s, starring in a series of meaningless big budget films without making an impact. Perhaps only Adaptation really tested him. But it seems that the days of exciting indie films like Wild at Heart and Leaving Las Vegas were exchanged for the adrenalin of The Rock, Con Air and Face Off. Unfortunately the quality of the big budget stuff was short lived. Lord of War is interesting and brave in making its protagonist a massive scumbag. There are some excellent sections in the film that suggest Andrew Niccol could be a film-maker to watch. Unfortunately there is also an annoying voice-over, very annoying. It consists of Nic Cage droning on about things that are happening on the screen. A very simple rule about voice-over is that less is more. Thus, it is preferable if you don’t have one at all. If you do have to have one – don’t just describe what’s happening on the screen. This is not using the language of cinema very well at all. It suggests a lack of confidence on behalf of the film-maker. Overall this is better than a lot of Cage’s recent output and there are some good performances. Not from Jared Leto though, his role is under-written and leaves him looking uncomfortable and uneven.

5 thoughts on “April 19th: What is it good for?”

  1. The most memorable scene for me in Lord Of War was the high speed scene of the transport plane being stripped down to nothing.
    Not the way I’d expect it to be done, really, but I can see the effect the director was going for. It’s like those time-lapse films of animals stripping the carcass of a fallen elephant.

  2. I agree with this review and after hearing Cage describe to me what was happening on the screen as I sat there watching it unfold I got quickly annoyed and wanted to turn him off. I continued to watch the film in the hope that maybe Leto’s character would become more interesting but alas his talent as an actor was not allowed to be seen in this movie.

    1. Cheers for commenting petal. I’ve not seen enough of Leto. I’m afraid that being ‘really really goodlooking’ (in the words of Derek Zoolander) has been a bit of a curse for the chap. I thought he held his own in Fight Club.

      Look forward to seeing him in some more stuff but I get the feeling he’s quite happy making ridiculously expensive music videos with his band!

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