a critiQal film review Lord of War (2005)

Plot: Yuri (Cage) is an arms dealer - a very successful one. He arms whoever pays, regardless of who they are. But, how long will he be able to hide this life from those he loves - especially with a nosy federal agent (Hawke) poking around?

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  • ...Cage's powerful performance will have the viewer empathizing with a character they don't even like - now that's impressive!

Nicolas Cage has never been one to pigeonhole himself into just one type of role. He’s shown viewers he can do it all – action (Con Air (1997), The Rock (1996)), drama (City of Angels), romantic comedy (It Could Happen To You). Through it all, there was only one thing a viewer could be sure of – he was a good guy. Now, Lord of War comes out, and the good guy line becomes blurred. How would the public react to a an evil(ish) Nic Cage? We couldn’t wait to find out.

Nicolas Cage was able to completely embody his character in Lord of War – unfortunately, most viewers won’t appreciate it until much later in the film. He portrays a man who is able to set his morals aside for his job – but then easily slips right back into them outside of work. His character Yuri is almost completely able to separate himself into completely different personas – he is a true mast of “leaving his work at the office”. Occasionally, his other persona pokes through at the wrong time, but he is easily able to smooth out the situation and do what needs to be done.

The other characters in the film do a pretty good job in their roles, especially Bridget Moynahan and Jared Leto as Yuri’s wife and brother, respectively. Jared Leto is especially impressive, and picks up the hints of acting he showcased in Fight Club and takes another step up the ladder to truly great acting. The struggles he has with dealing with the knowledge of what his brother Yuri does for a living helps him to become Yuri’s conscious – the one Yuri can’t afford to have himself while he works.

Leto’s powerful portrayal of a man battling his addiction to drugs while passing through various rehabs paint a vivid picture of what Yuri’s conscious deals with on a day to day basis in his work. It’s a great showcase of what would happen if Yuri allowed himself to let his conscious get involved in his work.

Lord of War is, at it’s core, the battle for complete control of Yuri through these 2 personas, and how the events in Yuri’s life contribute to the final outcome. It’s a great idea to base a film around, and Lord of War takes the viewer on the journey with Yuri from beginning to end with style. With the added danger inherent in Yuri’s profession, this film hooks the viewer right from the start – and never lets go.

While you probably won’t agree with Yuri’s line of work (especially when he mentions Osama – even in passing that’ll be sure to send a shudder through you), Nicolas Cage’s impressive performance actually will make the viewer sympathize with some of the tough choices he makes. It’s hard enough to get viewers to sympathize with a good guy – Nic Cage’s ability to sympathize with someone the viewer doesn’t actually like is much more impressive. He makes Lord of War a must-see.

The most important part of the film? It is inspired by true events. After seeing this film, that should give you a shudder or two.

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