“Lord of War was released back when I really didn’t like Nicholas Cage at all. The movie barely registered on my radar when it was out, and I never even considered seeing it.
Then a few years ago, a friend recommended it to me. I replied that I wasn’t too interested in, but I at least looked it up. And saw that Jared Leto had second billing. Okay yes, definitely needed to see it.
I was blown away. This is such a sleek and stylish and stirring film. Cage is Yuri Orlov, a man who immigrated to the US as a child with his family, who has gone on to be a rather successful arms dealer. He travels the world making deals with rather shady characters, making excuses for his lack of morals, and amassing a rather sizable fortune for himself.
What most sells this film is that Cage simply owns it. The story is straightfoward. The character should be despicable. I don’t recall if this was the movie that finally won me over on Cage, but if it wasn’t, it sure made a very solid case for him. But even more so, I love Leto as Yuri’s brother Vitaly. In a role that’s not too far off from what he gave us in Requiem for a Dream (my favorite Leto performance), he provides some moments of heart. I know, I use that term too much, but I can’t help it if that’s what I’m often drawn to in a film. Vitaly’s journey is only seen in glimpses scattered in between chapters of Yuri’s story, but he has quite an arc. And the brotherly love between these two is papable.
We’ve also got Ethan Hawke as the law enforcement officer that is eternally chasing Yuri. As Yuri describes him, “”And he was the rarest breed of law enforcement officer. The type who knew I was breaking the law, but wouldn’t break it himself to bust me.”” It’s weird. I love Ethan Hawke, and on paper I should fully support his character most. But between how the characters are written and how effectively they’re played, I always find myself rooting for Yuri when they match wits.
Oh I got so caught up in recapping, I forgot what was initially meant to be one of my leading points. The opening credits sequence that follows the life of a bullet. It’s one of the best openings for any movie, and that alone is worth watching. The movie is just nonstop from there.”