Rated: R Reviewed by: Frank Release date: September 16, 2005 Released by: Lions Gate Films
In a dark cynical film Nicholas Cage sells the tools of war to a depressing Africa that can break our hearts. If we weren't sure of the nature of the film, it only takes the opening scene to prove the point. The first scene demonstrates the making of a bullet, its sorting, packaging, sending, loading and the path it takes just before entering the forehead of a young African boy.
Cage's Yuri came to the US when his parents who are Christians pretended to be Jewish. His father in reality has become part of the local Jewish religious community to the dismay of his wife.
Yuri learns quickly that money can be made in the sale of arms. He first visits the Berlin Arms Show in the early 80's and while in Europe his dream girl reappears (Bridget Moynahan). She grew up in the same neighborhood as Yuri and he has had a crush on her from day one. To capture her he lives far beyond his own posh life style. She becomes his trophy wife even when she expresses her concern that all she has done in her life is be pretty.
Learning that the US leaves weapons in war zones after the fighting ends (it's cheeper that way) he uses his sales skill and bravado to begin the promotion of and sale of the weapons. He brags that he has sold arms to every army except the Salvation Army.
His work and personality are difficult and cold to watch. He is casual and mater-of-fact about the deaths to which he has contributed. Jared Leto, the brother who enjoys drinking, drugs and very attractive women, initially appears to be less human but eventually is sickened by the business.
We see two people from Brighton Beach - Moynahan and Cage are successful in their own field, but she purposely ignores the hints of the dark side of her husband's working life. A marriage built on lies works for each of them.
As the USSR dissolves greater opportunities arrive; it's no longer guns now he has relatives who can loose billions of dollars worth of missiles which make their way into his hands and bring enormous cash awards. At this point he lives in an apartment next to St. Patricks Cathedral in New York City.
As the authorities in the person of Ethan Hawke close in on him he gives away the evidence and uses influence to survive, as his relationship with an African dictator becomes almost personal we realize that he is not immoral he is amoral.
This is a film that shakes our sense of security and decency as we learn that some of it is true. Yuri is a man who has lost his soul and the film chips away at our sense of well being. It may not be comforting entertainment but it is a must see.
|Lord of War||B+||B+||B-||B|