Lord of War is a waste of bullets

Many movies try to be too serious for their own good, when they really ought to be fun and entertaining. Lord of War, written and directed by Andrew Niccol (Gattaca), proves to be no exception. Lord of War stars the always capable Nicolas Cage, who is in no rare form for this movie. Cage is actually mellower than in most of his roles, ruining the fun that most Cage films have. The opening credits to Lord of War are amazing, to say the least. They follow a single bullet’s journey: the manufacturing, the shipping, all the way to the gun. You’ll have to go see the movie to discover the conclusion of the bullet’s journey; I will warn you that it’s not pretty. Cage plays the self-sufficient Yuri Orlov, whose family fled from the Soviet Ukraine owns a restaurant in Brooklyn. Yuri feels unsatisfied with his life and fortunately one day he witnesses a mob “whacking,” which prompts him to leave the family restaurant business for something a little more dangerous: arms dealing. Soon, Yuri becomes the world’s leading arms dealer, and has little more money in his pocket. Yuri claims that he merely “sells weapons, not death,” but it’s obvious that Yuri loves his new life. Yuri is constantly on the move, selling guns to warlords in many continents, but mainly in Africa. The film concentrates on Eamonn Walker and Sammi Rotibi, as Andre Baptiste Sr. amd Andre Baptiste Jr. the father-son African tyrants who, at the expense of their own county, do about anything to do business with Cage. “Can you get me the gun of Rambo?” Baptiste asks Yuri. “Part one, two or three?” Yuri replies with that wit he displayed in films like The Rock and Face-Off. Problem is there aren’t enough moments like this. Lord of War doesn’t allow Cage to show off his wit because the film is always on the move, never stopping to settle down and let loose. Along for most of the ride is Yuri’s brother, Vitali, played by Jared Leto, who eventually succumbs to the powers of cocaine. Leto, who played another drug addict in Requiem for a Dream, is nothing special in this role and slows the movie down tremendously. There are too many scenes where Yuri is either asking his brother, “Why are you so messed up?” or taking him to another rehab visit; Leto’s role is pointless, except for a couple of good brother-to-brother scenes.Yuri eventually lands the women of his dreams, Ava Fontaine (Bridget Moynahan), whom he admired as a child. Ava is now an extremely popular supermodel, who Yuri occasionally sees on billboards during his travels. After Yuri sets up a fake photo shoot for Ava so they can meet, the two are locking lips even before Yuri’s private jet (which he has rented just for the occasion) can get off the runway. Ava’s role is another unconvincing one in Lord of War; she offers no outstanding acting as the wife who lives in the shadow of Cage’s arms dealing. They have a child together and now Yuri must keep his real life secret from his family while keeping the warlords happy. Ethan Hawke, who can’t seem to land a good role these days, plays the Interpol officer who is always one step behind Yuri. In one of the better scenes of the film, Hawke is searching for Yuri’s ship-which he is sure has illegal guns on it-but Yuri and his crew quickly change the name (as well as the flag) on the back of the boat before Hawke, on his small speed boat, can maneuver around to get a look at the name. Hawke looks like an amateur cop chasing a much more intelligent villain; a movie with such a confident arms dealer in Yuri could’ve used a much more intelligent, and perhaps witty antagonist. I kept thinking how much better Lord of War would have been with John Travolta in place of Hawke. Ian Holm plays a competing arms dealer who also always seems to be a step behind Yuri. Holm’s role is yet another in Lord of War that fails to satisfy. Eventually, Yuri feels regret for the path he has chosen and his double life causes some serious family problems, especially when the warlords get involved. At the end of the movie you will probably feel, like I did, unsatisfied. There aren’t enough “one liners” and fun action scenes that make this movie worthy of a second sitting and, unless you’re a diehard Cage fan, I would think about forgoing the first.