Guns are bad. And people aren't much better. Such is the straightforward message of Lord Of War. But while the film is powered by a righteous anger, it is also very funny, stylish and daring. Nicolas Cage melds his action man and off-kilter personalities together to play Yuri Orlov, a Ukrainian-American entrepreneur who realises gun-running is a business that will never die - providing you don't get killed with your own merchandise. He's clever and heartless, a little like the movie.
The film is relentlessly well-written: each exchange, each line of Cage's extensive voiceover, is exquisitely crafted. At one point Yuri quotes Oscar Wilde and it's a credit to writer/director Andrew Niccol's wit that swathes of his original writing could be confused with the legendary Irish playwright or the best of Woody Allen. "Is this how you want to be remembered?" asks Anatoly (the excellent Jared Leto) about his brother's relentless profiteering. "I don't want to be remembered at all," replies Yuri. "That means I'm dead."
"CUTTING AND CLEVER"
The dialogue is both a massive strength and a peculiar weakness. It's so cutting and clever the action never feels much like life, the characters aren't given space to breathe and there's no sense of soul beneath their corrosive cynicism. That is what stops Lord Of War being a great film. But it is still a very good and timely one: a groan at the bloody horror in the world and a celluloid bullet aimed at the governments and businessmen who profit from it.