Review Date: December 20, 2005
Director: Andrew Niccol
Writer: Andrew Niccol
Producers: Philippe Rousselet, Andrew Niccol
Nicolas Cage as Yuri
Jared Leto as Vitaly
Bridget Moynahan as Ava
As the saying goes, does evil truly prevail when good men fail to act or does evil prevail…no matter what? It’s a question asked by the film’s lead character, while its sobering conclusion, provides us with a true sense of how deep the film’s subject matter is really rooted. Cage’s “speech” nearing the end of the picture is also a fascinating eye-opener about the true nature of his job and its place in the world and the United States. But it wasn’t only the film’s topic and moral questions that I appreciated here, I also really liked the way writer/director Andrew Niccol presented the whole thing, with an obvious eye for style, and plenty of years covered, languages spoken and locations visited, all helping to give the film that much more authenticity. The film’s creative opening credit sequence was also one of the best of the year. Cage’s performance was solid, but he wasn’t truly asked to emote much here, as his character slinks through his role, as he seems to fool not only many of those around him, but himself as well. As secondary characters, I was sure that Jared Leto was going to be that annoying “drugged up” sibling, while Bridget Moynahan was to be nothing more than a trophy wife, but I was happily surprised as both characters were given a little more depth, particularly Leto, who provided the film with a modest touch of emotion.
Not too many films are able to balance an important topic about a serious issue with dark humor (Cage’s character is visibly upset when he hears about “peace talks” in a country to which he was just about to provide weapons—“Why can’t they stick to their word?!”), emotion and a thru-line that provides the whole with a sense of congruity, but LORD OF WAR does all that, while simultaneously providing the audience with something to mull over afterwards. There weren’t too many releases about which you could say that this year. Oh, and the sequence in which the spent shells from an automatic weapon are discharged to the sound of “cha-ching, cha-ching” in Cage’s mind was priceless.