Yesterday we watched a movie on DVD that was extremely disturbing and upsetting. However, it is one that every thinking person should watch especially as it is unfortunately based on real events. The film is “Lord of War” (2005) and was written and directed by Andrew Niccol (who also wrote and directed another good movie that I recommend, “Gattaca” – 1997).
The film is about Yuri Orlov (played ably by Nicolas Cage) who is from a Ukrainian family living in Little Odessa, NY. He witnesses a Russian mafia hit in his neighbourhood and decides that guns rule the world and the only way to get power and money is through guns. He makes it his life’s goal to become a successful arms dealer. It soon becomes apparent that he has enormous talent in his chosen profession. As he says: “There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That’s one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11?” He enlists his brother Vitaly (Jared Leto) into the business and the story follows the rise of the Orlov brothers over the course of 20 years. We are taken to the end of the Cold War to the advent of terrorist threats and dictatorships in third world countries.
Yuri becomes the “Lord of War” supplying arms to anyone and any country for a profit, without ever questioning the ethics of what he does, nor taking sides. He becomes very successful, very wealthy and marries his childhood fantasy woman, supermodel Ava Fontaine (Bridget Moynahan). They have a son, and live in a luxury apartment in Manhattan overlooking Central Park. He manages to elude the law as personified by Interpol Agent Jack Valentine (Ethan Hawke), by always outwitting him and keeping a step ahead.
The film climaxes to a powerful and catastrophic conclusion, which unfortunately is not at all uplifting, nor does it presage well for the future. This is definitely not a movie where the “good guys” win, unless you think the good guys are in fact the warlords and the arms dealers. However, what a pyrrhic victory is the one that we see depicted on the screen…
The film was well made and despite the long introduction where Yuri narrates for a quite a few minutes, it is engaging and rivets one attention to the terrible story that unfolds in front of one’s eyes. It is beautifully written and made and by a strange quirk of cinema, one cannot but take the side of Yuri, who is one of the most likeable antiheros I have seen. The man is amoral and has no conscience, he makes money that is drenched in the blood of innocents and yet one sympathises with him as he is a victim of modern society and the world’s dirty politics.
The movie has one on the edge of one’s seat and at long after one has seen it, the message that driven home at the end of it, just like the sting on a scorpion’s tail is “The greatest arm dealers in the world are USA, UK, Russia, France and China. These are the members of the UN Security Council…” Do see this movie! It is not “pleasant”, it is not “escapist”, it is not your typical “Hollywood pic”, but it is violently gripping and in a strange way entertaining, but the message is dark and filled with innumerable warnings as to where our world is going.