Latest Entertainment News Headlines

The Best Movie You Never Saw: Lord of War

11.04.2016

Welcome to The Best Movie You NEVER Saw, a column dedicated to examining films that have flown under the radar or gained traction throughout the years, earning them a place as a cult classic or underrated gem that was either before it’s time and/or has aged like a fine wine.

This week we’ll be looking at LORD OF WAR

THE STORY: In the late-eighties-early-nineties, a low-level thug, Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage) becomes an infamous arms dealer, exploiting connections in the former Soviet Union and selling his wares to whomever has the cash.

THE PLAYERS: Directed and Written by Andrew Niccol. Starring Nicolas Cage, Jared Leto, Ian Holm, Bridget Moynahan and Ethan Hawke.

THE HISTORY: No disrespect intended for Nicolas Cage, who I remain a fan of, but 2005 was the last great year for him as an A-list star. This was before the tax troubles that forced him into accepting too many roles that were beneath him, and, at the time, he was one of the biggest stars on the planet. Skillfully juggling commercial projects with more artistic ones, such as this and the same year’s THE WEATHER MAN, Cage was on an amazing roll at the time. LORD OF WAR was a pet project of his, with him able to play against type as the cold-blooded, amoral Yuri Orlov (a composite character based on several arms dealers, including the now incarcerated Viktor Bout).

Written and directed by Andrew Niccol, whose GATTACA is another unfairly obscure classic, LORD OF WAR pretty much sunk like a stone at the U.S box office, opening behind the Reese Witherspoon vehicle JUST LIKE HEAVEN and THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE, eking out only $24 million domestically, not a great result for a movie that cost $50 million. Luckily for the investors, Cage’s still powerful overseas draw put the film in the black, bringing the worldwide gross to $72 million. Critically, it was relatively well-received but around Oscar time it was totally ignored, and in the home video market it was sold as an action flick, despite not being that kind of movie at all.

Well, you know, you are talking about… the only character who is the lead of the movie is in Lord of War. For me that was really interesting to explore the darker side of human nature. And, in fact, an Akira Kurosawa movie that explained it just in the title — the more evil you are, the better you sleep. That just sort of was what I thought about almost in every scene of Lord of War. The problem with people who have a conscience is it slows them down. We all like to say, “How can you sleep at night?” But the thing is, if you have no conscience, you sleep like a baby. [Laughs] - Andrew Niccol - Film School Rejects Interview

WHY IT'S GREAT: LORD OF WAR is an example of the type of movie Hollywood has all but given up on, the big-budget adult drama. Nowadays, given a star with a similar stature to Cage’s at the time, LORD OF WAR might still get made, but for a fraction of the cost and not as lavishly. Despite the tough subject matter, LORD OF WAR is a big movie. Beautifully shot, with innovative CGI used to enhance (but not dominate) the story, and big-stars in juicy roles, you can’t help but feel nostalgic for the era in which this was made. Sure, it was only ten years ago, but the biz has changed so much it might as well have been a lifetime ago.

Now, a financier would be bent on making Yuri “likable”. Take, for example, the recent WAR DOGS, and the way director Todd Phillips had to constantly jam in scenes showing that the Miles Teller character had a conscience, keeping the focus away from where it should have been, on Jonah Hill’s more amoral (and realistic) thug gunrunner.

The fact is, arms dealers are bastards. They make money off murder, and Cage’s character is utterly unsympathetic, but, working at the peak of his ability he makes it work the same way a guy like Al Pacino did in SCARFACE, elevating this to the classic gangster movie pantheon (and what else is a gunrunner but a two-bit gangster). While the subplot revolving around his beauty-queen wife (Bridget Moynahan) feels a bit tacked-on to provide some heart, and Hawke – as an ATF agent – has to spend pretty much all of his screen time moralizing, this is a hard-core romp through and through.

"I'm kind of obsessed with Nic Cage. I just found out about /r/onetruegod too. He's the only actor since Marlon Brando that's actually done anything new with the art of acting; he's successfully taken us away from an obsession with naturalism into a kind of presentation style of acting that I imagine was popular with the old troubadours. If I could erase his bottom half bad movies, and only keep his top half movies, he would blow everyone else out of the water. He's put a little too much water in his beer, but he is still one of the great actors of our time. And working with him was an absolute pleasure. In fact, one of my favorite scenes I've ever done is the last scene in LORD OF WAR." - Ethan Hawke - Reddit AMA

Cage seems to be having the time of his life embodying Yuri’s amorality, but to his credit he stops short of chewing any scenery. Another great performance comes from Jared Leto, as his junkie brother, who proves that discovering a conscience in this field is a deadly prospect. Everyone’s great in this, including “Oz’s” Eamonn Walker as a war lord based on Liberia’s Charles Taylor, and the now retired Ian Holm as a more humane gun runner.

BEST SCENE: I remember seeing LORD OF WAR opening night at the Scotiabank Theater in Montreal, and the audience applauding wildly at the end of the opening credit sequence, which shows a bullet being made, packaged, and finally being shot into a child soldier. It’s strong stuff but it starts the movie off on an unforgettable note.

SEE IT: LORD OF WAR is easy to see, be it on streaming services, or on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital.

PARTING SHOT: Visually striking, with many interesting shots juxtaposing Cage against old Soviet monuments or bullets, and running a lean 120 minutes, LORD OF WAR is one of those movies I go back to every few years, getting something new out of it every time. Hopefully Cage will find his way back to this kind of material, as there aren’t many actors that could have pulled the movie off like he does here.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Source: JoBlo.com

RECOMMENDED MOVIE NEWS

MORE FUN FROM AROUND THE WEB

Strikeback
Not registered? Sign-up!
Or

+0
1:02PM on 11/08/2016

Great movie

Definitely one of Cages best movies. I wish I saw it in the theatre.
Definitely one of Cages best movies. I wish I saw it in the theatre.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+0
12:29AM on 11/07/2016

Great flick

This is a fave of mine. Cage is really good in it.
This is a fave of mine. Cage is really good in it.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+0
1:57AM on 11/06/2016

I finally saw it this past summer and was super disappointed

Cage was in a handful of really good under the radar films around the time this came out -- not just Adaptation but also The Weather Man, Matchstick Men, etc. To me this didn't feel to be nearly in the same league. The ending was super preachy and Leto's change of heart was crazy fast and just felt contrived. I really wanted to like it, maybe my expectations were just too high.
Cage was in a handful of really good under the radar films around the time this came out -- not just Adaptation but also The Weather Man, Matchstick Men, etc. To me this didn't feel to be nearly in the same league. The ending was super preachy and Leto's change of heart was crazy fast and just felt contrived. I really wanted to like it, maybe my expectations were just too high.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
11:55PM on 11/04/2016
The marketing for this movie was absolutely horrible, it was like when Panasonic 3d0 came out and nobody knew what the hell it was. Jared Leto making a map of Ukraine with the blow and then his reaction when Cage wipes it all off, so good.
The marketing for this movie was absolutely horrible, it was like when Panasonic 3d0 came out and nobody knew what the hell it was. Jared Leto making a map of Ukraine with the blow and then his reaction when Cage wipes it all off, so good.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
11:18PM on 11/04/2016
Such a good movie. One of Cage's absolute best.
Such a good movie. One of Cage's absolute best.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+0
9:38PM on 11/04/2016
I liked this movie. He tried really hard to get the girl.
I liked this movie. He tried really hard to get the girl.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
3:25PM on 11/04/2016
Great film. Indeed very underrated.
Great film. Indeed very underrated.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+1
2:13PM on 11/04/2016
I saw both Lord of War and The Weather Man in theaters. Both are criminally underrated.
I saw both Lord of War and The Weather Man in theaters. Both are criminally underrated.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+1
12:42PM on 11/04/2016

Saw it. Great movie

one of Cage best movies.
one of Cage best movies.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
12:23PM on 11/04/2016
I love this movie. Leaving the theater I had so many feelings. It was rare for a movie to make me feel so angry back in 2005 (what an innocent I was). I first saw it on DVD at the International Spy Museum, and probably paid more for it there than I would have if I'd just gone to a Wal-Mart or Target, but I didn't care. Andrew Niccol has made three movies that I absolutely love: GATTACA, The Truman Show (writer), and Lord of War. Two of those movies are futuristic allegories, whatever possessed
I love this movie. Leaving the theater I had so many feelings. It was rare for a movie to make me feel so angry back in 2005 (what an innocent I was). I first saw it on DVD at the International Spy Museum, and probably paid more for it there than I would have if I'd just gone to a Wal-Mart or Target, but I didn't care. Andrew Niccol has made three movies that I absolutely love: GATTACA, The Truman Show (writer), and Lord of War. Two of those movies are futuristic allegories, whatever possessed him to tackle the subject of international gun-running, he hit it home, and whatever complaints Viktor Bout may have about accuracy, it's still a damn good movie.

Oh, and I was unaware Ian Holm had retired. Not that he hasn't earned it.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
View All Comments

Latest Entertainment News Headlines


Top
Loading...

Featured Youtube Videos

Views and Counting

Movie Hottie Of The Week

More